Syndicate head notifies Egyptian authorities of journalists' hunger strike

Ahram Online, Saturday 13 Sep 2014

A group of journalists went on hunger strike on Saturday in solidarity with a campaign to free political detainees

Journalists' Syndicate Headquarters, downtown Cairo (Photo: Mohamed Nada)

The head of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate has officially notified the prosecutor-general that a number of its members have started a hunger strike and a sit-in inside the syndicate’s headquarters, Syndicate Board Member Khaled El-Balshy told Ahram Online.

The group of journalists started a temporary hunger strike on Saturday to denounce a law restricting public protests, and to show solidarity with a number of political detainees.

The law, passed last November, bans protests without prior police authorisation and stipulates hefty fines and prison sentences for violators.

A campaign was launched by a number of detainees this week who are demanding they be released and the protest law be amended. A number of supporters are also on hunger strike in solidarity, with around 130 people participating in the action both inside and outside prisons.

Egyptian officials have denied that there are any political detainees in Egypt.

The official notice by syndicate head Diaa Rashwan includes the names of all striking journalists who are members of the syndicate, but does not include striking journalists who are not members, said to be at least four.

Fifteen journalists and syndicate members said in a statement that they would go on hunger strike until Monday, and asked fellow journalists to join them in the strike and the associated sit-in.

El-Balshy said that after the hunger strike ends on Monday the journalists will sit together to decide on further steps.

According to El-Balshy, the strike is aimed at making the detainees feel that they are not alone.

He added that one of the strike’s goals is to “make authorities feel that that the rejection of that law is expanding, reaching journalists and political parties.”

Seven political parties said on Friday that they would open their headquarters to hunger strikers in support of their campaign.

A member of Egypt’s National Human Rights Council has said the protest law is currently undergoing an amendment phase, and that the council has been asked to participate in the amendments.

Egyptian officials are yet to comment on the possibility of amending the controversial law.

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