ANHR: Eleven journalists killed in Egypt over past 40 months

Mayada Ashraf, 22, is an Egyptian journalist who was killed when she was on a coverage assignment on 28 March 2014. She was shot twice in the eastern Cairo district of Ain Shams as she was covering clashes between the Egyptian police and pro-Morsy protesters who were protesting then against General Abdul Fattah El Sisi’s bid to run for presidency. 
Police and protesters had blamed each other for Ashraf’s killing. In her last report unfolding the developments in the hotspot, she said live rounds were being fired.
Ashraf, a reporter for Al-Dostour, was the last of a list comprising of eleven journalists who were killed while covering the trajectory of Egypt’s transition since the 2011 uprising until General Sisi has become the country’s president in June 2014 after orchestrating a coup against the first civilian president Mohamed Morsy on 3 July 2013.  
The list, prepared by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), held the Egyptian governments responsible “not only for most of the victims, but also its failures, and in some cases its incitement against them” and failing to impose harsh punishments on those who have targeted them. The recently released report detailed the names of journalists killed and media outlets they worked for.
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide recorded 10 journalists killed over the past four years and dozens others jailed and persecuted, which unprecedentedly put Egypt in the third rank among the most deadly countries worldwide for journalists after Syria and Iraq. 
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Egypt the 159th out of 180 countries in its 2014 press freedom index. 
Despite the authoritarian rule of Mubarak’s three-decade rule, CPJ recorded only two journalists killed over 19 years, but the political upheaval that followed the 2011 uprising left three journalists killed, two during the military junta rule in 2011 and one during Morsy-one-year tenure. 
The peak of journalists’ killings coincided with the military’s heavy-handed crackdown in 2013 on dissent, leaving six professional journalists killed and dozen others injured and detained without charge.
“Such killings is an indication of the political violence in 2013, therefore, the Egyptian government aims to make a divide among the press between pro-military and pro-Muslim Brotherhood, in this context, the government kills journalists to silence many others and pressure them to exercise self-censorship,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator.
“The government is waging a war against terrorism to justify any crush against both civilians and the press,” Mansour reiterated.
For Ashraf’s killing, CPJ reported that Ahlam Hasanin, Ashraf's colleague who happened to be with her at the time of the shooting, said that Ashraf was shot in the head from the back while they, along with other unarmed protesters, were running away from the police gunfire coming from behind.
The report, which is consistent with CPJ report, condemns the detention of hundreds of journalists without charge for indefinite periods, indicating that media political affiliations affect the judicial process. Of particular note is a Cairo court’s sentencing on 23 June 2014 of three Al Jazeera reporters from seven to 10 years in jail for editing video footage of demonstrations in 2013 to falsely “give the appearance Egypt is in civil war,” and support for a “terrorist organization,” referring to Muslim Brotherhood.
In this regard, neither the new Sisi-led government, nor its predecessors has ever investigated the killings and killers who are mostly from the police side went unpunished. “If you are an oppositional paper or journalist, it might take months or years to punish perpetrators… If you are a journalist belonging to or supporting the ruling regime, then the justice system acts faster,” the report read.
Eight victims of what the ANHRI report called “martyrs of journalism” with reference to the eleven journalists, were killed during Sisi-led clampdown on the Islamist opposition in 2013, especially as journalists who were covering the Rabaa and Nahada massacres in mid-August when security forces violently dispersed pro-Morsy encampments, described by Human Rights Watch as “the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.”
“While covering Rabaa, despite wearing a press vest, I could not do my coverage because snipers on rooftops were shooting and there was no distinction between targeting journalists or protesters, all were at the range of fire,” said a journalist who prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons. 
“Shooting and arresting journalists were part of security forces campaign to muzzle and scare journalists with the goal of blacking out atrocities committed during the break-up or clashes,” she added.
Mic Deane, 61, a British cameraman with Sky News and Habiba Abdul Aziz, 26, an Egyptian journalist with Express News magazine were shot to death on 14 August 2013 while they were covering the break-up of Rabaa. 
At the same hotspot, a 30-year-old Ahmad Abdul Gawad, a journalist with state-run Akhbar Al-Youm daily and Muslim Brotherhood TV channels Masr 25 and Ahrar 25 was shot to death by a bullet while reporting news. Mosaab Al-Shamy, 26, was shot to death while taking pictures of the dispersal, he took around 5,000 pictures, and one of them is considered to be one of the 10 most important pictures in the world by the Times. 
“Journalists are on top of the people targeted because they are unwelcome, especially when it comes to unfolding violent events that could expose the government’s brutal practices during clashes,” said Alia Al-Masry, an independent journalist.
According to Mansour, March 2014 was the last time a journalist killed as political activity was largely shrank after Sisi rose to power, no mass protests are taking place “several journalists decided either self-censor or leave the country, they come to us and ask for our help, in this sense, the government succeeded in silencing journalists with critical views.”

Related Articles

Back to top button