- Posted May 27, 2014 by
A Meal’s Weight in Knowledge
Freedom of expression and freedom to information are fundamental principles for the development of societies with sustainable knowledge and serve as a cornerstone for democracy and good governmental managerial behavior, the UNESCO argues. However, up until now, this statement has not been well enough respected. An Al-Jazeera journalist lost over a third of his body weight due to being imprisoned for more than 100 days then going on a hunger strike in Cairo, while still working. While in jail the Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, had multiple health concerns.
According to his doctor, Mohamed Osama El-Homsi, he has begun to have impaired liver and kidney function. “His condition is poor and he may die within few days.” In fact, he was living in disastrous conditions and was badly treated during his imprisonment in the notorious Tora jail. He was moved to a secret location before being transferred to a hospital. On a recent prison visit, his family was permitted to bring a scale and according to the measurement, his weight dropped from 108kg to 68kg (238.1lbs to 149.9lbs).
Elshamy was arrested on the 14th of August last year and has been in custody for 265 days while recovering from a violent Egyptian military raid that overthrew the former Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi. Like three of his journalist colleagues, the former BBC correspondent, Peter Greste; the Bureau Chief, Mohamed Fahmy Cairo; and the producer Baher Mohamed, he has been formally charged. Primarily, they have been accused of spreading false information and for taking part in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a group that the Egyptian government considers as a terrorist organization. The journalist was also charged for leading vandalism acts towards the national security. Elshamy reported from the Rabaa El-Adaweya encampment that police have killed more than six hundred people when evacuating the site on August 14th. He was detained at a military checkpoint when leaving the burning square, his wife being witness since she was with him in the meantime.
The Al-Jazeera also known as the Jazzera Satellite Channel is an Arabic channel owned by the government of Qatar. The station gains worldwide attention since it is the only channel to have live coverage of the war from its office. After the trial, he has been under pressure from Egyptian authorities as the government Morsi was dismantled in a military takeover.
His family doesn’t believe that his arrest was related to his status as a journalist within the Al-Jazeera network, however after getting news from others previously detained, they do think that this situation might explain why Elshamy has still not been released, as opposed to other detainees. They also said that Elshamy continued to work hard while in jail, despite the fact that he suffered from not eating and he spent his time in cell to write about the stories of his cellmates. Mosa’ab said that before his hunger strike, he would ask for books and paper rather than foods and water.