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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Egypt journalists continue sit-in in solidarity with jailed colleagues

The protest started on Monday to call for proper medical care for at least four jailed journalists whose lives were reportedly 'in danger'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 1 Mar 2016
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Journalists' Syndicate (Ahram online)
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A number of Egyptian journalists continued a sit-in on Tuesday at downtown Cairo's Journalists Syndicate for the second day in a row, despite the interior ministry assuring them that some of their demands will be met.

The sit-in started on Monday to call for proper medical care for at least four jailed journalists – Youssef Shaaban, Hani Salah El-Din, Hesham Gaafar, and Hossam El-Sayed – whose lives were reportedly "in danger."

The four journalists are imprisoned on a number of charges ranging from joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood to illegal protesting at the time when Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was in office.

At least four other journalists are also reportedly in need of medical care, though their condition is not as critical.

The interior ministry responded the same night by stating that the jailed journalists will receive the necessary treatment.

However, journalist Mahmoud Kamel, a syndicate council member and one of the sit-in organisers, told Ahram Online that only two journalists were moved to a hospital outside prison and blood samples were drawn from the two other journalists, who were then returned to prison.

He added that the sit-in is continuing so as to make sure that the interior ministry continues to provide the journalists with proper medical care even when not “under pressure of a strike.”  

The second day of the sit-in saw a number of public figures joining the journalists at the syndicate headquarters, most notably leading Doctors Syndicate figure Mona Mina.

Though the sit-in mainly has "minimum demands of protecting the lives of [imprisoned] colleagues," according to Kamel, the journalists also have other, long-term demands, including allowing a syndicate delegation to visit those jailed as well as holding all imprisoned journalist in the same prison so as to facilitate delegation visits.

These demands will be discussed, along with press freedom laws, during the syndicate's next general assembly meeting on 4 March.

At least 30 journalists in the country are currently imprisoned or detained pending trial on various criminal and misdemeanour charges.

The Egyptian government has repeatedly denied that journalists who are behind bars were arrested as a result of their journalistic work.

The authorities have also denied what rights activists describe as systematic violations against inmates inside Egypt's prisons.

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