Letter from Shawkan photojournalist imprisoned in Egypt

Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide through its petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for 12 December at Cairo Criminal Court.

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks to all his supporters, who are calling for his freedom.

Shawkan has been tortured and held for more than two years in temporary detention in contravention of both Egyptian, as well as, international human rights law.

He was arrested on 14 August 2013, while photographing Egypt’s darkest day, the security forces’ violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in Cairo, which led to the killing of more than 600 protesters in one day.

He is facing several charges, which 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 solely 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 is suffering from Hepatitis C and is being denied access to medical care in Cairo’s infamous Tora Prison.

Shawkan’s letter:

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.

After more than 850 days in the black hole without fairness and justice, I am lost in limbo

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, prisoner of conscience in Egypt

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.


Tora Prison

This letter was first published by Mada Masr here