Cairo, May 7th, 2012
ANHRI calls on the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) to immediately release all journalists arrested during the dispersion of the Abbassiya sit-in on May 4th, 2012. ANHRI denounces the ongoing detention of journalists despite the military authorities’ awareness of their job and inviolability of their professional exercise, let alone being arrested while performing their duty on the ground. Therefore, ANHRI calls on the disclosure and trial of the officers and soldiers implicated in torture incidents alleged in numerous testimonies documented in the prosecution and forensic reports.
The military police and forces have detained hundreds of activists, journalists and passers-by in Abbasseya Square during the brutal dispersal of the sit-in on May 4th. 18 journalists and photographers were still under investigation and detention until May 6th despite official statements claiming that all journalists had been released.
ANHRI condemns in the strongest possible terms the torture of detainees and journalists, confirmed in Ahmed Ramadan and Islam Aboul-Ezz’s accounts of the events. Ramadan and Aboul-Ezz are two of Elbadil website’s journalists who stated after their release that they had been tortured and humiliated by military officers and recruits. “If this happens with journalists, then it is more likely to happen times more with ordinary citizens who neither have a heard voice nor someone to protect them,” said ANHRI, being shock by the continuation of anti-press policy in the aftermath of the revolution, rather than the regulation of the situation of the press and journalists, expansion of freedoms, and the amendment of the Penal Code laws that violate international conventions.
“The ongoing detention of journalists and obstruction of their work are attempts by SCAF to conceal its crimes, as happened before in the events of Maspero, Mohammed Mahmoud street, and the Ministerial Cabinet. In the aforementioned incidents, TV channels were raided on air, journalists were intimidated and arrested, and their equipment was seized. We are also very worried that the charges against the released journalists have not been relinquished,” said ANHRI.
“SCAF’s failure in protecting freedom of expression and press, amounting to clear hostility to them, and failure to punish those implicated in human rights violations are few of the evidence proving its failure in the transitional period as a whole. SCAF’s strenuous attempts to tarnish the revolution and revolutionaries, conceal the truth, and control public opinion are countless,” added ANHRI.
In case any of the detained journalists and citizens were found guilty of any charge, they should be tried before the civilian justice system, rather than the military one. This reflects the elected parliament’s failure in restricting the authorities and jurisdiction of military courts which are currently trying nearly 400 civilians, merely because they demonstrated near the Ministry of Defence.
ANHRI strongly agrees with the Journalists Syndicate’s decision to escalate the case to the International Federation of Journalists, and to file a complaint to the Attorney-General against Major General Hamdy Badeen, Military Police Chief. ANHRI also seconds any action that would expose the authoritarian practices of SCAF that have gone way beyond the systematic assaults of Mubarak’s regime on freedoms.