36 violations against journalists on the third anniversary of the 25th of January revolution

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The joint operations room held by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression and Journalists against Torture Observatory followed on the commemoration of the third anniversary of the 25th of January revolution. The room managed to observe 36 violations against journalists and photographers during their performance of journalistic duties and coverage. It is worth noting that the report only includes the cases the operations room has detected and is not inclusive to all violations.

That’s why the association and the observatory condemn the brazen violations that were monitored. The violations against journalists varied between prevention from performing journalistic duties, arrest and physical assault to damaging and seizing their equipment which strips away their right to cover events.

The association and the observatory emphasize that the violations committed against journalists yesterday are systematic and they aim to prevent the public from knowing the facts about incidents of violence and the human rights violations committed by police forces against protestors. Additionally, targeting journalists highlights how the police forces disrespect the law, which regards journalists as public servants and provides them with the legal protection of public servants when they are on duty. Also, the targeting of journalists instead of protecting them stresses how the Egyptian authorities are not committed to the protection of the right to freedom of the press granted by international law. Violating such freedom exposes the authorities’ fake allegations about the current period achieving a transition to a democratic state, the rule of law and respect to human rights.

Cases of Assault:

A number of attacks carried out by the public as well as security forces targeted journalists and photographers during the anniversary. Journalist Basil El-Dabh of the Daily News Egypt said in a written testimony to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression that he and freelance journalist Nadine Maroushi were harassed by a crowd of people which gathered around them after conducting some interviews near Abdel Moneim Riad to the entrance of Tahrir Square. When they were asked about their work affiliation, El-Dabh answered and continued recording the interviews. However, someone in the crowd claimed that the sound bites both journalists got would be used to make misleading video clips and that they worked for Al-Jazeera. The crowd grew in number and some of them called over the police to arrest the journalists. After explaining their work to the police, both journalists walked with the police for a while, but the crowd turned violent and started grabbing Maroushi’s scarf in a way that was strangling her and El-Dabh was getting beaten over the head and back. The police escorted both journalists to the entrance of a residential building and closed the door to keep the people away. Inside the building, they were questioned and their bags and phones were searched. Once the crowd dissipated, the police escorted the two journalists out.

Also, the public assaulted journalist Walaa Waheed of Al Wafad newspaper at Ismailia governorate. While she was covering the celebrations of the revolution anniversary around the governorate building, a group of people falsely claimed that she worked for Al-Jazeera channel and started attacking and insulting her. Yet, some personnel from the Armed Forces responsible for security and other members of political parties helped her out of the area surrounding the building.

The security forces committed some attacks as well. Samah Farag, the editor of Albawabh news website was covering the clashes between revolutionary groups and the security forces in Moustafa Mahmoud Square when the security forces arrested her and seized her camera and identification card. The forces were also aided by a group of people who claimed that she worked for Al-Jazeera.

Prevention cases:

Security forces prevented journalist Ashraf Abass, one of the founders of Journalists against Torture Observatory, from getting on the metro due to his possession of a camera. Abass said that he was to be allowed to enter Mohamed Naguib metro station in the area of Downtown Cairo on the condition of performing a body search. He refused the procedure and suggested searching his belongings instead. When the officer insisted to unload Abass’s bag, which Abass refused, he prevented Abass from proceeding to the metro. The officer considered the camera an object not to be allowed on the metro. Abass was denied the right to report the incident of prevention.

Also, journalist Khaled Hussein of Al-Youm 7 newspaper and correspondent Sahar Ali of Veto website were both prevented from photographing the clashes taking place between the security forces and the supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi in the area of Matareya. Both journalists were on Horeya Street photographing the clashes when an officer from security police seized their cameras and investigated their identities and where they worked. Their cameras were held up to 45 minutes.

Furthermore, the cameraman of MBC Masr channel was threatened by a security officer to stop videotaping the clashes in the area of Alf Maskan, or else the officer would tell the residents of the area that he was an Al-Jazeera cameraman.

Injures:

Several journalists and photographers were subjected to injuries while covering the clashes on January 25th 2014.  Reporter Mohamed Hafeez of “El Shahed” website was hit by birdshot in his right arm, in Hatem Roushdy Street, in Beni Sueif governorate. The injury occurred during his covering of the clashes between the security forces and supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

In addition, photographer Abdullah AbulGheit of El Badil website, was also been hit by birdshot while covering a demonstration for Morsi supporters in 6th of October city. He was hospitalized afterwards. Moreover, his colleague, photographer Hossam Bakir received a gunshot in the abdomen and was hospitalized to El Mounira hospital for treatment. Lastly, Rassd news network (a Muslim Brotherhood news source) announced that one of its reporters was about to be shot by a sniper citing a recorded video of the incident.

In Mustapha Mahmoud Square, in Giza, “Al-Aalam” channel’s team, was hit by birdshots that left their photographer Mohamed Bayoumi injured in his feet and arms, and made their sound engineer Ali Abdel Wahab, faint due to an injury in the head. The source of birdshots remained unknown.

Cases of arrest and detention

On the other hand, Abdel Khalek Salah, reporter of “Sada El Balad” was arrested under the claim of working for Al-Jazeera channel, while covering Tahrir Square. Despite showing his newspaper card, security forces have arrested and transferred him to Kasr El Nil police station where he was detained for a while and released later at night.

Moreover, Ahmed Fouad, a reporter of “Karmouz” news website, was arrested while covering the incidents of Alexandria, along with other journalists and photographers, such as Ahmed Hesham (known as Ahmed Mido) and Mohamed Gabr. Also, Eslam Ezzat, a journalist for El Wadi news website, was arrested by security forces in Al Azbakeya area. He was charged with possessing a bomb and a banner calling for overthrowing the regime, despite being in Downtown Cairo to cover the demonstrations.

It is clear from the aforementioned testimonies, facts and violations against journalists and photographers that the state – despite the passage of three years after the 25th of January revolution in which freedom was the demand and the media played a crucial role – still practices the same policies that the revolution was against. These policies range from the absence of commitment to the right to freedom of expression, the right to bodily integrity to the systematic violations against freedom of the media and the press.

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression and the Journalists against Torture Observatory believe that the number of violations and attacks on journalists and photographers transpiring on Saturday 25th of January 2014 were by far the biggest since the 25th of January revolution. They also believe that these attacks represent a outright crackdown on the rights and freedom the state is bound to protect according to the constitution adopted earlier this month, international treaties and conventions ratified by Egypt, particularly Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The association and the observatory call for an investigation in all the attacks and violations against journalists and photographers on the third anniversary of the revolution, emphasizing that the restrictive policies practiced against media channels and their workers will cease, and the release of the journalists and photographers who got detained on Saturday 25th of January 2014 were.

The following table illustrates the violations against journalists and photographers on Saturday 25th of January 2014.

Name

Work Place

Case Description

Abdel Khalek Salah

Reporter at “Sada El Balad” website

Arrested in Tahrir Square and was taken to Kasr El Nil Police station, then released

Basil El-Dabh

Journalist at Daily News Egypt

Attacked by a group of civilians near Tahrir Square

Nadine Maroushi

Freelance journalist

Attacked by a group of civilians near Tahrir Square

Tarek Wagih

Journalist at “Al Masry Al Youm” newpaper

Arrested and detained in Moski police station, then released

Amr Salah El Din

Photographer at the Chinese News Agency

Arrested and detained in Moski police station, then released

Ahmed Hesham (Ahmed Mido)

Freelance photographer

Arrested in front of his house, in Al Assafra, Alexandria, and was taken to the police station, then released

Karim El Behairy

Reporter at “El Badil” website

Arrested and the prosecutor decided to detain him for 15 days for investigations

Ahmed Fouad

Journalist at “Karmouz” website

Arrested from Sidi Bishr, Alexandria, while covering demonstrations still in detention (until the time of writing the report)

Waleed Fekri

Journalist at “Bos W Tol” website

Randomly arrested from a coffee shop at Camp Chezar, Alexandria and was released later at night

Felipe Camacho

Photographer from Colombia

Arrested from Al Dokki, Giza

Eid Saied

Photographer at “Watany” newspaper

Arrested in Tahrir then released

Amira Mohamed Salem Awad Allah

Unknown affiliation

Arrested from Al Maadi Metro station

Hossam Bakir

Photographer at “Al Masry Al Youm” newspaper

Received a gunshot in the abdomen and was receiving treatment in El Monira Hospital at the time of writing the report

Amr El Maghrabi

Journalist at “Ona” news agency

Detained by a group of civilians in Tahrir Square, then delivered to police forces

Mohamed Gabr

Freelance journalist

Arrested in Alexandrian then released at night

Mohamed Darwish

Journalist at the “Commerce Chamber” newspaper

Missing from Mostapha Mahmoud and injured by birdshot in his leg

Abdullah AbulGheit

Journalist at “El Badil” website

Injured by birdshots, Currently receiving treatment in 6th of October Hospital

Ahmed El Husseiny

Journalist at “El Badil” website

Arrested and detained in Hada’k Al Qubba police station, then released

Khaled Kamel

Journalist at “El Badil” website

Got detained inside The Jewish Temple in Downtown Cairo, then released

Mohamed El Gabbas

Journalist at “El Ahd” Lebanese newspapers

Arrested then released

Essam Fouad

Journalist at “Veto” website

Arrested by police security forces while covering at El Horeya Square in Maadi then released after a couple of hours

Mohamed Hafeez

Reporter at “El Shahed” website

Injured by birdshot in his right arm, in Beni Sueif and hospitalized

Samah Farag

Editor at “El Bawabah News” website

Attacked by police security forces and detained for a while then released

Walaa Waheed

Editor at “El Wafd” newspapers, Ismailia

Attacked by supporters of the government and the Armed Forces

Mohamed Bayoumi

Photographer at “Al-Aalam” channel

Attacked and injured by gunshots

Ali Abdel Wahab

Sound Engineer at “Al Aalam” channel

Attacked and his equipment was broken

Ashraf Abbas

Journalist and one of the founders of “Journalists Against Torture”

Banned from entering Metro Station for carrying a camera

Khaled Hussein

Journalist at “El Youm El Sabe’” newspaper

Banned from coverage by the police security forces. There was an attempt to attack him and his camera was confiscated in El Mattareya

Sahar Ali

Reporter at “Veto” website

Banned from coverage by the police security forces. There was an attempt to attack her and her camera was confiscated in El Mattareya

Hassan Nassar

Reporter at “Veto” website

Arrested and then released

Mohamed Fawzi

Photographer at “El Wafd” newspapers

Injured by birdshots while covering the clashes and underwent a surgery in the jaw in Ein Shams Hospital

Eslam Ezzat

Journalist at “El Wadi Website”

Arrested from the clashes in Talaat Harb Street. He was then detained in Al Azbakeya police station and released in the early hours of next day

Ahmed El Qa’b

Journalist at “El Wadi” website

Arrested in Faisal Street and was detained for two hours inside Faisal Police Station

BBC crew was attacked by the public in Tahrir Square

A security police officer threatened MBC Misr channel to stop videotaping in the area of Al Alf Maskan

Rassd Network reporter was about to be shot by a sniper while covering the clashes. The attempt was recorded by the reporter’s camera.