Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad is on hunger strike in prison © Private
October 1, 2011 was Maikel Nabil Sanad’s birthday and he spent it like he has spent most of the past month, on hunger strike against his imprisonment for speaking out against the Government.
An Egyptian blogger who has been working to expose the abuses of power of the Mubarak regime, Sanad was convicted on charges of publicly insulting the army on Facebook and via his blog. In his post, Sanad called for an end to military conscription which he said should be voluntary instead of mandatory. He also drew attention to the continuing abuses by the military regime highlighting case after case in which protestors were arrested, beaten as military thugs and even tortured.
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As some people have alluded to in the comments to this post by the Editors, bloggers are most definitely in need of press freedom just as much as “regular” journalists. Just take a look at Shi Tao, a blogger who’s been in prison in China since 2004 for sending an email.
Every time I read a blog, or post to one, I think about how lucky I am to be able to say what I want in those posts and comments, and how glad I am that those other bloggers whose thought-provoking words I read have not been silenced or jailed by their governments. But there are so many bloggers and other journalists who are not free to share their ideas with us, whose ability to shine the light on human rights abuses has been cut off.
On this day, I not only want to remember Shi Tao and the others and hope they are soon freed–I want to do something to make that happen!
Days after Egyptian authorities went after one blogger critical of the government’s policy on Gaza and human rights, they’re now going after another. Dia’ el Din Gad, a student blogger is believed to have been held incommunicado in the custody of State Security Investigations (SSI) services and at risk of torture since his Feb. 6. (Click here for more)
As bloggers have emerged as an active and important voice in promoting democracy and human rights, the government has responded, including Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Karim Amer. It’s part of a larger effort to shut down all public criticism of the government in the press and beyond.
For all of the attention given to the release of Ayman Nour, obstentively as a charm initiative in preparation for a Mubarak visit to DC, the arrest of Dia’el Din Gad is a warning for the Obama administration. This week, the Washington Post sums up the dangers in an editorial here.
To take action on the Dia’el Din Gad, case, click here.