Today is the international day of remembrance for journalists and writers which are detained or have been murdered. And there is really a need for such a day: The “Press Freedom Barometer” of Reporters without Borders alone counts 81 killed and 131 detainded journalists – as well as 64 arrested “cyberdissidents”, often bloggers.
And the Reporters without Borders’ list only counts the continuing cases – many short arrestings, which often do not become known before the victims are released, are not in the index.
Today I especially want to remind of the Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, who is now arrested for more than a year – and will, as it seems, not be freed before a three years time. On November 6 last year he was being taken into custody for a critical blog post. This February, he was sentenced to four years in prison for defaming Islam as well as president Mubarak, what made him the first Egyptian Blogger being sent to jail for his writings.
Eventhough Kareem has never confirmed his extreme critic on Islam several times, a group of friends – which may not even share his views – fights for him and his freedom of expression. On the first anniversary of Kareem’s detention, the site FreeKareem.org called for demonstrations and saw people protesting in 14 cities all over the world, demanding freedom for Kareem as well as freedom of expression.
But against all international protests and the high publicity in the media for this case it has now become known that Kareem had to experience physical torture in prison:
- Being beaten inside ward Number 22 where he is imprisoned at the time of the assault, the battery was launched by another prisoner and a prison guard, in the presence of Officer Midhat Samir and under his supervision. Samir also gave the green light for the assault which resulted in a broken tooth “upper right canine tooth” along with a number of bruises and abrasions on various parts of the body.
- Transferring Karim to a disciplinary cell where he was handcuffed and had his feet strapped into shackles; he was beaten up again which caused him more injuries.
- Another inmate prisoner was brought over where they stripped him out of clothes and beat him severely in front of prisoner Kareem Soliman as they also threatened to inflict upon him the same punishment, if he didn’t mind his own business.
Torture is nothing extra ordinal in Egypt: The country, which Reporters without Borders count as one the internet’s enemies and rank it as #146 in this year’s Press Freedom Index, frequently attracts attention caused by “vanished” people – often bloggers – and torture in it’s prisons and police stations, hitting the top this year with the case of a 12 year old boy tortured to death by policemen.
Especially with these bad news back in mind I want to remind of Kareem – as a symbol for all those many other bloggers, writers and journalists, which become arrested, tortured and killed for political reasons all over the world.
Similarly, I want to remind of the Burmese writers and journalists, which are, because of their participation in this years revolution, suppressed or arrested, like comedian and poet Zargana. The memory as well be for Kenji Nagai, the Japanese photojournalist murdered by the Burmese junta.
“When novelist write we expect their stories to be “true”, but not factual. When journalist write the stories are often factual, but not true. Scholars, if they want to make a contribution, write books and articles that are both true and factual. But politicians when they speak or write, we should never expect them to be either truthful or factual.”
German Bloggers are planning an action for freedom in Burma on
October 3 (our national day) October 4. We would like the international community to participate in it. It will be online, like a special post or something like this for Burma. We hope, you all will join our support for the Burmese revolution – I will post more about it as soon as I get to know it.
(Everybody who speaks German: here‘s a informative post by Robert Basic)
Last Saturday I attended the “Freedem instead of fear” demonstration against surveillance and security mania in Berlin. It’s main topic was the coming law about data retention.
The German newspaper taz speaks about the “Generation Internet” which had demonstrated on Saturday in Berlin under the motto “Freedom instead of fear”. The list of the calling organizations gives a different view on it – and which do the participants?
The last demonstration in Frankfurt on April 14 under the same motto did not let me await a homogeneous group – already then members of extremely different groups were on the streets for freedom and against surveillance and security mania. For the demonstration there were more than 50 supporters registered now. They came from a wide political and social spectrum – beneath political parties and civil right movements also trade unions and social groups.
But the biggest part of the demonstrators most probably were not the organized activists, but committed citizens. Demonstrators which, because they are not easily to assign with any group, do not assign attention with huge posters, banners or interesting costumes, are very likely to not become recognized. So at the end it is not just the community, but often a little group of organized “hardliners” which form the masses image.
From the 15.000 attending – which were relatively young on the average – some groups were surely gaining more attention than others.
Especially for sure the radical left – not just the black bloc, but a not too small group of people, they guess 2.000 – from the extreme left and even with an own truck from a group called “No peace with the police estate”. This is a group which has for sure enough reasons to fight data retention – but at the demonstration, they were mostly recognized for protesting against other problems, glorification of the RAF, a former German terror organization and, and getting into trouble with the police. Trouble, which came up, because the black bloc – approximately 200-400 participants – did not accept common rules and the law.
Another group which may not gain such attention, but was as well very confusing, were the communists.
Whether members of the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist Party, spartakists or the Left Party (former PDS, a party which as “SED” was the biggest party in the DDR) – they all were there. And they all showed an astonishing historical oblivion. If a spartakist holds up a poster “Defend Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea” – at a demonstration against surveillance! – than you have to wonder about their ideas. But it is the same for all sympathizers of “red” regimes – if it is Ché Guevara and the flag of Cuba or the Soviet one on the shirt…
But the “big” parties which were demonstrating – Greens and FDP, the liberals – did not always vote for what the Demonstrations goal was.
There were also great actions by data protection groups like the Chaos Computer Club or the “FoeBuD, which also had their own cars. Cars – there were some really interesting ones! But also much critic on others… “Hedonist International” was told they were doing a “Love Parade” and the Antifascist Left had to accept critic about their glorifying the RAF.
Very interesting as well were the speakers’ entrances: The usual ones like the artist padeluun, who is one of the founders of the “FoeBuD”, but also representatives of Hedonist International or the medical profession and – with special applause – Markus Beckedahl, one of the authors of the internationally awarded blog netzpolitik.org and Thilo Weichert, the independent commisioner for data protection of Schleswig-Holstein.
Weichert told, that “Freedom instead of fear” in Berlin was Germany’s biggest demonstration für civil rights and data protection since protests against a census twenty years ago.
Though we have to see: “Freedom instead of fear” and the movement behind it is still no movement of the whole society. It can grow to it, but now it is not. And for that we have to work – the demonstration’s goals, Freedom instead of fear, is not just in this time, when we are awaiting new restrictive laws, important, but always. They have to be the ground on which every democracy should be built up.
Restrictive laws are a problem all over Europe (where they are coming) and the whole world (where they are still existing). Everyone has to fight them for a peaceful and free life!
More Photos here.