Freedom of Expression during the First 100 Days of Sisi Term

Egypt needs at least twenty years to achieve democracy”

A statement was delivered by Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah Sisi, potential candidate for presidency elections in May 2014 and the actual president since July 3, 2013 before winning by overwhelming majority

However, nine journalists were killed in one year and at the same time, about 18 journalists were imprisoned for the first time since September 1981 by Anwar Sadat, but Sisi announced according to al-Ahram “The freedom achieved in media is unprecedented”!

(al-Ahram May 8, 2014 http://goo.gl/hlSQYL)

We are facing a unique situation; unprecedented media freedoms and long years before achieving democracy!!!

The Field Marshal spoke about the unattainable democracy and media freedoms, he wasn’t a president yet, all of these words were his, a head of the presidential elections; specifically on May 2014.

Now, after the president came to power officially on June 8, 2014, we publish this miniature report on the freedom of expression and media during 100 days of his rule. It aims at finding an indicator for the increase in the freedom of expression or its setback and the availability or the lack of the political will to achieve democracy.

Violations’ Models and Examples

First: Censorship and Confiscation of Arts and Creativity

(El-Fan Medan, WASLA, Outa Hamra, People of Alexandria TV series, suspension of Alaa al-Aswany from writing articles, confiscation of five books and shutting down two channels)

–  Sine April 2011, El Fan Midan events were held in the first Saturday of each month on regular basis in Cairo and Alexandria, but three months of Sisi in the office, witnessed banning the event for two times, while the third were held hardly and after the intervention of the Minister of Culture; the reason is the Ministry of Interior.

– On June 14, 2014, the security forces stormed the publishing house of “WASLA”, a newspaper issued by ANHRI for four years without problems, and confiscated all the copies of issue no. 72. The forces also seized the printing materials there. Moreover, arrested the worker of the publishing house who was there. The forces refused to allow lawyers of ANHRI to review the arrest record, details related to the storming or its reason for referring the worker to “district Prosecution of Awsim”. He was interrogated and charged of printing and possessing a magazine incites to overthrow the regime, joining a terrorist group, printing a newspaper without a license without a notice or permit and disseminating of a news paper”.

-On June 20, 2014, the forces refused to allow “Outa Hamra”; a band of street theater actors, they started on 2009 by putting on performances and holding events in the street. While they were preparing to put on a performance in a-Ithad square in Maadi, they were banned. The band thought that the reason is performing in a square and therefore, they transferred it to one of the side streets but the security refused to hold it. They attempted to hold the performance inside a school but they were threatened that they might be arrested if the performance was held.

-It isn’t right to air a TV series that criticize performance of some police officers during Mubarak’s term!!  It was one of the reasons to ban airing of the TV series of “People of Alexandria” for the scenarist “Belal Fadl”.

The other reasons included that the TV series is written by “Belal Fadl”, a regime’s critic. Stared by an actor who refuses tyranny “Amr Waked” and an actress her husband is against the police regime; Amr Hamzawy’s wife Basma! It was described by ANHRI as McCarthyism.

–  “Now, only one opinion is allowed, one idea is allowed, one word is allowed. It is not allowed to criticize or to disagree; only praising is allowed on the expense of truth”.

This was written by Dr. Alaa al-Aswany after stopped from writing in al-Masry al-Youm newspaper on Monday night of June 23, 2014.

For years, al-Aswany was only defending his believes and views. He always welcome different point of view and criticizes. Many agree with him while others disagree. He is only letting both of them know that he is only defending what he believes is right.

– Five books in one strike, we believe that the decision-taker of the confiscation said to himself; I am happy to ban books that were already published and no judicial decisions were issued toward it. The books are “Semiotics” of Dr. Nasr Hamed Abu-Zaid and Seiza Qassem, study on “praising love” for the professor Alain Badiou and novhel of “al-Mabroua” for the writer “Rabie Gaber” and the novel “midnight children” to Salman Roshdi and “al-Harir” for Alessandro Barrick.

On September 3, 2014, the administrative judiciary issued a decision of prohibiting “al-Jazeera Mubasher Masr and “Rabaa” on allegations of the lack of neutrality and promoting MB ideas. Such decision violates the constitution. It is a complementary to a wide chain started by the interim president Adly Mansour when he shut down several channels at the beginning of his era. While, this sentence was issued on allegations of violating professionalism and neutrality but similar sentences weren’t issued against channels that got used to defaming the dissents, publishing illegal voice records to them, moreover, lies that are ridiculous by others. This clears the policy of double standards.

Assaulting Journalists and Impunity:

A lot of journalists who are among the most supporters of Sisi didn’t find a clue but to criticize the expansion of attacks on journalists, as described by others and press freedom organizations that the press has become a dangerous profession in Egypt.

Assaults are committed only against dissent journalists but also most of the journalists, because they are journalists. Large number of journalists was assaulted in different events because they are merely journalists:

– On June 2014, number of police officers assaulted number of “al-Watan journalists” and seized its headquarter in Dokki after an argument between a police corporal and a journalist in the newspaper arouse. The journalist parked her car in a violating place, then it developed, while  one of her colleagues defended her, the police corporal beat him on his head causing an injury. The he called other personnel via wireless device, who were 20 personnel and then an argument took place between them and some of journalists. As a result the police corporal beat the journalists and called the traffic wench. Then they laid the building under siege and shut down all the entrances and aimed their weapons against the journalists and they threatened them of shooting them in case they went out.

– On Friday June 27, during the general assembly, that was hold in the Bar Association in order to withdraw trust from the president of the Bar Association Sameh Ashour, but it ended in renewing it. Some of the journalists who support him attacked the journalists Noha Abdullah, journalist in Veto, Metab in Tahrir, Ahmed Aly and Aly Fahim in al-Fajr and Mohamed Salem and Ahmed Hendawi. Their equipment were seized on the backdrop of taking pictures of clashes errupted between Sameh Ashour pro and against.

– On June 2014″al-Fajr” “Mahmou Shawki” was physically assaulted and arrested for several hours in an armor. He was arrested while covering the clashes between MB and police forces. His phone was confiscated in addition to his Id. Moreover they confiscated his authorization from “al-Fajr” until one of the investigation officers reviewed his personal documents and released him.

– On July 3, security forces assigned by securing the police station of al-Montazah Police Station I, assaulted the camera crew of CBC and were banned from taking video of the civil defense and experts in the explosives experts to combing the city.

Federal Palace March and several violations against journalists:

– Arresting “Abdul-Rahaman Mohamed and Mahmoud Abu-Dahb” journalists in al-Badil for two hours in one of the armors to cover the clashes and deport them to “Masr al-Gadedah” police station. Then they were released after investigating them and verify their identity. No report was filed to the prosecution by the fact.

– Assaulting the reporter of “Youm7”, journalist “Hossam Atef”.

– ONA reporter, Journalist “Mahmoud Abdel-Hafiz” was shot by Cartouche at the bottom of his right-hand side.

– Assaulting the photographer of “al-Watan” the journalist “Hassan Emad”.

Assaulting Journalists in the Anniversary of Dispersing Rabaa

– In the anniversary of dispersing Rabaa sit-in and while the journalists were covering some of  MB and the deposed president Mohamed Morsi supporters in Dar eslam and Maadi. The following were attacked: “al-Shourok” photographer, “Ahmed Abdul-Gawad” and the photographer of Masrawy” Mahmoud Bakar, were beaten by unknown civilians and they were arrested after seizing their cameras. Azza Fadaly, the journalist in al-Masry al-Youm, was beaten while covering the demonstrations in Hadayk al-Maadi. As usual, the assaults were committed by unknown persons and the good citizens. A few hours later, their personal belongings related to them, after a report was filed to them as victims under no. 10464 of 2014 and attaching the medical report “Ahmed Abdul-Gawad” under no. 12406 by a report filed to record the assault against them.

Journalists Syndicate President

– August 3, 2014, the former president of Journalists Syndicate and the chairman of al-Ahram foundation “Mamdouh al-Wali” was arrested and the prosecution decided to imprison him for 15 days on pending investigations on allegations of financial and administrative violations. The Syndicate’s Freedom Committee said that this is a false allegation due to his political affiliation and orientations. He was known by his opposition to the policy of the state since June 30, 2013. He was investigated without resorting to the Syndicate which is a clear and deliberate disregard to the sovereignty of the Syndicate and its role.

  Penalties and arrests without violations

1-    On July 2014, the writer “Sawsan Abu Hassan” the deputy of editor in chief “October” magazine received one week work suspension from writing in the magazine due to a decision made by the editor in chief “Hussien Abu Taleb” as he thought she was criticizing him via Face book and then she was sent to investigations without committing any professional violations.

2-    On the night of July 3, “Beshoy Adou and Minaa Khalil”, journalists in the e-newspaper of Alexandria during covering the events of the bomb in Sidi Gaber station and then they were sent to the police station and a report was filed against them under no. 1061 of 2014- Administrative court of Sidi Gaber on allegations of taking pictures of military facilities and they were sent to the prosecution which decided to release them.

3-     On July 10, Essam al-Amir, the head of the Radio and TV Union, decided to suspend Hekmat abdul-Hamid, TV anchor of “Good Morning Egypt” for one week due to addressing war on Gaza in the program.

4-    In amid of August, the editor of the broadcast program to host a different voice among four voice critics the report of HRW on the anniversary of one year of Rabaa. So, she hosted the human rights lawyers Gamal Eid who criticized the lack and the late of investigations in the fact. As a result, the head of the general program broadcast, decided to transfer, penalize and charge her of affiliation to MB due to hosting a guest who sings off key.

5-    On August 29, the security forces in Alexandria arrested the academic Mohamed Tarek, the instructor in faculty of science, Alexandria University one of the witnesses of the HRW report and after being detained in unknown place, he was charged of demonstrating without permit, joining a terrorist group and administrating pages via social networks that are affiliated to MB. He still on remand yet.

Broadened Charges and Trials on allegations of religious contempt

This pattern of accusations that was common in the era of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the military council, had returned again to imprison two young men in two cases within 100 days of rule-Sisi:

–         Five years imprisonment was the decision of the criminal court in Luxor, against a young Christian (k, Shawki) alleging religious contempt

–          The second sentence was by Misdemeanor Court of Minya which sentenced the reporter of the American channel “the road” Bishoy Armia” for 5 years and a fine of 500 pounds on charges of sedition against the backdrop of filming in December 2013 intervention about the persecution of Copts in Egypt.

Political and Religious Hisba reports and cases against dissdents:

You can write in Google search engine the phrase “reports from Dr. Samir Sabri against…”to review of the vast amount of reports against the opinion-maker, as an example of the return of the religious and political Hisba reports, which flourished strongly during the rule of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, and then declined, to rears its head during the rule of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi, and return to the boom at the end of the rule of interim President Adly Mansour and the beginnings of Sisi rule.

Journalists and Poets in the Prison

among them journalists of al-Jazeera and others

between prolonged remand to who have opposing opinion

Because the easiest way is the continuation of the imprisonment without certainty of reasons for detention or evidence of violation of law or practice violence,

According to ANHRI, there are 19 journalists and writers in the prison. It is the largest number since September 1981 detentions without the last days of the previous president rule of “Anwar Sadat”, they are:

  1- Mahmoud Abu Zaid Abdul Shakoor “Shawkan”

  2- Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

3- Peter Jrist

4- Baher Hazem Ghorab

5- Mahmoud Abdel Nabi

6- Hatem Ayman Abdelnour

7- Islam al-Homsi

8- Omar Ali Hassan Abdel-Maksoud

9- Ahmed Doma

10- Mohamed Adel

11- Mohammed el-Adli

12 Samhi Mustafa

  13- Mohammed Fawzi

14 Omar Hazek

15- Magdi Ahmed Hussein

16- Hani Salah al-Din

17- Ahmad Jamal Zyadah

18- Mahmoud Nasr

19- Abdullah Fakhrani

Human Rights Defenders in the Prison

The nature of their work and their activity was the direct reason for imprisonment and throwing them in prison, any fair investigation or trial will be fair to evacuate immediately release them, so the objective is not a trial, but their punishment through the use of the prolonged remand and lack any time limits.

They are:

1-    Mahinur al-Masry

2-    Yara Refaat Salam

3-    Sanaa Saif

4-    Ahmed Maher

Silencing Voices by “Law on Protest”

Despite the issuance of the law on protest in the era of the interim President, Constitutional Judge, “Adli Mansour,” and despite the appeal of its unconstitutionality and widespread protests that rejects it, enriched by the broad restricting of freedom of expression, both of the political parties or civil society organizations and pro-democracy movements, or even government Council for Human Rights, but there is any response by the current president, “Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi,” to the appeals and the stances of political parties and civil society organizations regarding to it, or modify it, but it is used stubbornly exaggerated in order to silence critics or opponents of the President or the police performance of the Interior Ministry.

 The law lead to the wide increase in the prisoners of opinion and conscience, not only as a result of its articles that explicitly restrict the exercise of the right to protest and even arbitrariness in using it by the police, even the police have arrested a young man who was standing alone holds a sign criticizing the increase of the prices!

Prolonged remand and hunger strike in “the battle of empty stomach”:

The battle started by a group of prisoners of conscience, who announced their hunger strike, raising the slogan of “we are fed up and we die to live” as a means of objection to the prolonged remand and their imprisonment for exercising their constitutional right to protest. Some journalists and prisoners of conscience have announced their hunger strike individually, such as journalist Ahmed Gamal Zyadah and prisoner of conscience Mohammed Sultan, before it become a mean of collective rejection and a protest joined by dozens of prisoners, male and female, such as known activist “Alaa Abdel Fattah” and was joined by activists, “Ahmed Doma,” and “Mohammed Abdel-Rahman” known by “Numbi” and “Wael Metwally” and “Mohammed Adel”. Here the campaign began “we are fed up” and they were joined by a group of activists inside and outside the Egyptian prisons. Then Ultras White Knights” joined them, until the number of hunger strikers inside and outside the Egyptian prisons reached nearly 240 activists, to object the law on protest, drop and the release of who are imprisoned due to it, raising the slogan “we die to live”.They are on hunger strike for their freedom.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah and his colleagues were released ahead of the launch of this report, but there are hundreds or thousands of prisoners of conscience in prisons.

Decisions of prohibiting political action and expression of opinion in universities:

The Minister of Higher Education Dr. “Syed Abdul Khaliq” had issued a decree, to prevent any political agendas or partisan activities in universities, during the next academic year. He announced that during a meeting of the Supreme Council of Universities on August 12, 2014, and the resolution is a blow to the right to express an opinion and peaceful political action, which is quite different from the practice of violence, which is punishable by the Penal Code. Such decision emphasizes the easiness of taking police solutions rather than dialogue and in a rapid development of the matter; Dr. “Gaber Nassar” issued a decision to dissolve students communities that are based on political, partisan or religious, stressing on the continuation of activities as long as you away from the political action.

ANHRI’s estimations to the violations against the freedom of expression in 100 days of Sisi rule to Egypt. (*note)

Number

Violation Pattern

 6

Confiscation of books and newspapers

3

Criminal prosecutions of journalists and opinion-makers

4

Control and Prevention of art and cultural events

 2

Shutting down of Satellite channels

5

Penalties against Opinion Makers without breach

34

 Protests, labor and social strikes

 

24

Protests and student activities

 

32

Protests and events for civilian pro-democracy forces

284

Protests and activities for the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters

 

374 protests and events

Total protests during the three months’ exposure to security assaults and others survived)

 

19

Journalists in the prison

4

Human Rights defenders in the prison

14

Physical assaults against journalists “according to ANHRI”

26

Unfair trials (according to ANHRI)

2

 Opinion’ Cases related to the allegations of opinion about blasphemy

30

Political and Religious Hisba reports and cases “according to ANHRI”

103

Number of Hunger Strikers inside the prison (according to ANHRI)

137

Number of Hunger Strikers outside the prison (according to ANHRI)

2500

The use of long-term remand (according to ANHRI)

1000

 Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience (according to ANHRI)

18 thousands prisoners

Number of prisoners and convicted in the political, opinion and conscience cases “according to ANHRI”

*Note: These figures are based on estimates and lawyers’ follow of ANHRI -14 lawyer- in the light of transparency and exchange of information and the declaration of the facts, and until the Interior Ministry announces the figures and we hope that – these figures are the nearest to reality according to estimates of ANHRI.

Related reports:

100 days of Adly Mansour rule

http://www.anhri.net/?p=84692

100 days of Morsi’s rule

http://www.anhri.net/?p=60153