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Reforms must address press freedom issues, says ANHRI

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 6 February 2011 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) stated today that the claims of reform proposed by the new Prime Minister were false and a sham because they did not include any reform or provide protection for the freedom of the press and the media. Attacks on reporters and media employees are continuing in a vicious and systematic manner with the collaboration of and incitement from Information Minister Anas Al-Faqi.

Despite statements by the new Prime Minister, Ahmad Shafiq, about the protection of the media and the right to peacefully gather, attacks on reporters continue. The latest attack was on the office of the online newspaper "Al-Badil" on the evening of 5 February with the arrest of a number of its reporters. Journalist Carol Kirbaj from the Lebanese paper "Al-Safeer", was also attacked.

ANHRI said, "After the last speech by President Mubarak, criminal gangs attacked the protesters with weapons. During the speech of Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq about reforms and his pledge to protect the protesters and media outlets, the militias of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the police were attacking and killing journalists on the streets of Egypt. Faces changed, but the policies against freedom of expression and the press are still intact, and that is what we will not accept again."

In addition to the arrests of dozens of reporters, there were physical attacks on scores of others that left one journalist dead. There were attacks and arrests of reporters and media employees from American newspapers and media outlets such as the "New York Times", "The Washington Post", Fox News, CNN, and Zuma News Agency. Other journalists from international media outlets including the UK-based BBC Radio and "The Guardian", France24 Agency, and the Canadian "Globe and Mail" newspaper were also targeted. Moreover, a reporter from the Russian TV station Zvezda was arrested.

Reporters from Turkey, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Greece and France were subjected to similar violent arrests at the hands of NDP gangs, with the help of the Egyptian police force and the indifference of the armed forces, which stood by while the attacks were carried out.

The attacks appeared to have been premeditated and systematic and clearly directed at journalists and media outlets. Egyptian and Arab journalists were not excluded from these blatant attacks. Assailants targeted the independent Egyptian daily "Al-Shurouq" and its reporters, while at least six reporters from the independent daily "Al-Masri" were attacked. Reporters from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network were arrested and their office was shut down. After they were released, Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Cairo, Abdulfattah Fayed, was detained.

The hysterical attacks on reporters did not exclude those working for government media outlets, such as Ahmad Mahmoud, who was shot by snipers of the security apparatus while he was documenting with his cell phone the crimes of the NDP gangs.


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Click here for the full press release

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