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Egypt's Journalists Syndicate postpones Tuesday general meeting for a week

The syndicate board said it wants to give members of parliament a chance to help resolve the crisis

Ahram Online , Sunday 8 May 2016
Yehia Kallash
Head of Egypt's press syndicate Yehia Kalash (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egypt's Journalists Syndicate decided Saturday to postpone for a week a general assembly meeting planned for Tuesday to discuss possible strike action if their demands are not met.

Last Wednesday, a general assembly meeting of more than 2000 journalists protested against security forces storming the syndicate.

In a statement on Saturday night, the press syndicate said they made the decision in response to a suggestion by a number of “parliament members in order to allow an opportunity for all parties and mediators, whether inside or outside parliament, to make an effort to resolve the crisis."

The statement highlighted that the press syndicate respects all state apparatuses, stressing its respect for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

"Journalists will never be above the law. Our cause since the beginning of the crisis has been to defend the rule of the law and reject the violation of the dignity of journalists," the statement read.

The parliament will discuss the standoff during Sunday's plenary session.

Two of the syndicate’s top demands are the dismissal of the interior minister and the release of all jailed journalists in freedom of expression cases.

Meanwhile, the press syndicate said in the statement clarification of its position was necessary.

Press Syndicate statement

The statement by the syndicate explained in eleven points their cause and the decisions the union has been taking to resolve the present crisis.

1.       Since the beginning of the crisis, the objections of the journalists have been against those who raided their syndicate and insulted them, not against any of the state apparatuses.

2.      The syndicate, which witnessed and supported the January 25 and June 30 revolutions, will never allow any party to make use of the present crisis for political purposes.

3.      Our cause is professional; we abide by the law, which prohibits the inspection of the union without the presence of both a representative of the general prosecution and the syndicate chairman. This is a legal procedure that does not differ from other laws stipulating restrictions on inspections of houses of judges, prosecutors and other members of the judiciary.

4.      [Problems similar to the current situation] have occurred throughout history of the press syndicate which dates back 75 years; however, the police have never stormed the union headquarters. Past incidents have always resolved themselves according to rule of law.  

5.      The two journalists arrived on 30 April at the headquarters of the syndicate- as soon as they knew that were homes were raided-  in a prelude to surrendering themselves to police. As soon as the syndicate chairman was informed the incident, he contacted the lawyers of the two journalists, the syndicate's lawyer, as well as the authorities [to determine proper legal steps required to mediate a solution to the situation].

6.      Authorities insisted on surrounding the syndicate and making use of thugs who verbally and physically assaulted journalists attempting to access the headquarters.   

7.      [The storming of the syndicate] violated the dignity of the syndicate and the journalists it represents unlike any other event during the past 75 years [of the syndicate's existence].  

8.      Rather than acknowledging mistakes [made during the raid], the syndicate was surprised by a systematic campaign against journalists aimed at demonizing them and their profession.

9.      The syndicate has never opposed any mediation or legal procedures to the current crisis in order to preserve the dignity of the journalistic profession and those working in the field.

10.   Our pride in our cause, and our insistence on the necessity of [holding those who violated the law], accountable is for the benefit of all Egyptian citizens.

11.    We stress that we are all fighting together against terrorism; [during this fight we must] maintain freedoms, [as well as maintaining] the interior ministry's commitment to abide by the law in all its actions towards the people -- especially since our union is not the first body to complain about the mistakes committed by some members of the police that tarnish the image of the force as a whole.

 

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