Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide in a petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for December 12 at Cairo Criminal Court.
Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks (below) to all those calling for his freedom.
Shawkan has been held for more than two years in pretrial detention, in contravention of both Egyptian and international human rights law. He has reportedly been tortured.
He was arrested on August 14, 2013, while photographing the security forces’ violent dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in in Cairo, which led to the killing of more than 600 protesters in one day.
He is facing several charges that could lead to his life imprisonment.
Amnesty International considers these charges to be trumped-up and politically motivated, aimed at punishing the journalist for photographing security forces’ violence on that dark day.
Amnesty International considers Mahmoud Abu Zeid to be a prisoner of conscience, who has been arrested and detained for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should be released immediately and unconditionally, and all charges against him dropped.
He should be free, not languishing in jail as his health deteriorates. He has Hepatitis C and is being denied access to medical care in Cairo’s Tora Prison.
In the next few days, finally I’m going to at least know my destiny. But, I do not know how am I feeling? In no way do I feel like it will be my justice day. I do not want to disappoint you, I am just trying to be real. In my country we have lost meaning of that kind of words.
Of course after more than 850 days in the black hole without fairness and justice, I am lost in limbo.
Just because I was doing my job as a photographer. I am in jail without even knowing why am I here?!
I’m sorry to tell you that “I became a person of full of hopelessness.”
This is my new me. However, I keep resisting my new me because of you and only because all of you, all the people and all supporters who are standing by me.
You keep me feeling that I’m not alone. You all have become my power and my energy and without all of you I cannot go through this.
I want to send my deep love and respect and my appreciation of all what you are doing for me. I feel so lucky to have such kind people like you. And indeed it’s my honor to count you as my friends.
“KEEP SHOUTING, JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME”
Please note: Shawkan’s letter has been published here exactly as he wrote it in English, courtesy of Amnesty International.