Families of Detained Journalists Demand Immediate Release; Press Freedom Group Strikes in Solidarity
The wives of two detained journalists held in Egypt’s notorious Aqrab Prison (Hisham Gaafar and Hassan Kabany) have filed several complaints and sent several pleas to several authorities and bodies concerned with the legal and health situation of their spouses in one of Egypt’s worst and harshest prisons.
Dr Manar Tantawi and Ayah Alaa, wives of the detained journalists, wrote to the Attorney-General, urging him to release their spouses, since they have exceeding the two-year maximum pretrial detention period under Article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Meanwhile, they urged the Prison Service for their spouses to be transferred from Aqrab "graveyard" to Tora Prison, in an attempt to preserve what remains of their health, and to claim their right to at least be in a prison with some "humane" conditions until their release, which is ultimately their first inherent right: the right to personal liberty.
They also appealed to the Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists to play its role in legal support and solidarity for two of its members who have been behind bar due to gross injustice for more than two years.
The families of Hisham Gaafar and Hassan Kabany pointed that these legitimate legal measures are the beginning of a series of moves to save them from the clutches of arbitrary detention – continuous efforts until they get their freedom.
For its part, the Front for the Defense of Journalists and Liberties called for a partial hunger-strike Tuesday afternoon October 31, in support of Hisham Gaafar, Mahmoud Abu-Zaid Shukan and Hassan Kabany, after Gaafar and Kabany announced their hunger-strike in prison to protest the violation of the law and their imprisonment in so-called "pretrial custody" for more than two years. They also protest the absurd repeated renewal of detention in violation of all laws. Shukan has been paying a heavy price with his health for four full years. This proves the junta regime’s determination to retaliate against all dissidents.
In a statement Sunday, the Front said continued imprisonment of the three colleagues, in addition to being a flagrant violation of the law, is also a slow death sentence whose responsibility lies with everyone who participates in it, even with silence or complicity, especially as medical reports confirm the deterioration of their health and the failure of the prison administration in providing needed treatment as well as the Syndicate of Journalists’ silence over severe violations of their rights. Indeed, the Syndicate has left them prey to the regime’s persecution, although their period of imprisonment has come to an end, according to the oppressive law of pretrial detention, and despite doctors’ affirmation of the need to transfer them to better-equipped hospitals for treatment.
The Front reiterated its full solidarity with the strike of colleagues and all detainees who demand their right to freedom in prisons through the "battle of empty stomachs". The Front demands a speedy transfer for proper medical treatment for colleagues Hisham Gaafar, for whom doctors recommended urgent surgery, and Mahmoud Abu-Zaid Shukan, whose health deteriorated sharply during the last few days.
The Front holds the Ministry of Interior and the Syndicate of Journalists fully responsible for the colleagues’ lives and the deterioration of their health. It also affirms the right of the three colleagues to freedom, since their periods of pretrial imprisonment has already exceeded the maximum legal period and turned into a full jail term.
The Front further stressed that continued imprisonment of the three colleagues, despite the end of their period of pretrial imprisonment in accordance with the provisions of the law of preventive detention and its unjust amendments, reveals the extent of violations against the detained journalists and the sham charges laid against them, especially as some of them spent a large part of his detention in solitary confinement in Aqrab "graveyard".
The Front called on all journalists to participate in their solidarity strike, in support of the right of colleagues to treatment and to freedom, after being trumped in their efforts through all legal means. Hisham Gaafar and Hassan Kabany could not find a way to claim their right to treatment and freedom except to declare a hunger-strike.
The Front also called on the Syndicate of Journalists to urgently intervene citing deterioration of the detained journalists’ health, as witnessed vividly during the last session of Shukan’s trial.