Shockwaves have rippled through the international community as the world
comes to terms with the Egyptian court’s decision on Monday to sentence Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste and two of his media colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, to a jail term of between seven to ten years.
Peter, an Australian, ex-CNN journalist Mohamed and local producer Baher, along with two British and one Dutch journalist who were tried in absentia, were sentenced on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security, simply because they had reported on the recent Egyptian unrest.
Their only “crime” is to report what they see is happening and the authorities have a right not only to reply but also to sue the journalists for defamation for making false reports. By refusing to exercise their right to respond or sue for defamation, the Egyptian authorities have ceded the right to take any retaliatory action. Imprisoning journalists carrying out their duty shows that Egypt is neither a normal nor a healthy democratic state that respects fundamental human rights and human dignity.
DAP strongly condemns the draconian verdict, which can be seen as an attempt to stifle the media and the right to free expression. A democratic and honest government must not be afraid to allow dissenting opinions. When dissenters are gagged, tyranny prevails.
Therefore, DAP calls upon the Egyptian government led by newly-elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to respect fundamental liberties such as freedom of the media and freedom of expression, and to intervene to release Peter Greste and the other two journalists in the name of justice, liberty and human rights.
LIM GUAN ENG