Journalists' sentences prompt international outrage
The show trials in Egypt claim more victims as three Al-Jazeera journalists are jailed for seven years. This verdict and the resulting sentences has nothing to do, as has been suggested elsewhere, with some dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, except perhaps in the sense that Egypt lost funding from Qatar which, in any case, was replaced by Saudi Arabia, following the coup of July last year. This latest episode of the Egyptian show trial pantomime, continues the sequence of judicial power being used to suppress freedoms and to quash opposition. This time, the message has been circulated to all journalists that you may report what you will, but you will only report what we allow.
|Journalists jailed for "endangering Egypt's national security."|
The “evidence” against these reporters was flimsy or non-existent. The “guilty” verdicts were farcical and corrupt. The sentences handed down by this kangaroo court are vindictive and indicative of a political regime, intent on demonstrating its power over the people, the media and the judiciary.
Another nail in the coffin of Egyptian democracy, driven home by al-Sisi, the recently “elected” president who led the coup of last year, and his military junta which now controls life in Egypt today. One of the features of any coup throughout history and no doubt a feature of all those coups still to come, is the way in which the coup leaders and their resultant regimes, almost immediately put on trial the leaders of the government that they have overthrown, the supporters of the government and all those individuals and groups who are critics of the new order or are considered as a threat. Thus so it is with Egypt.
Al-Sisi and his junta have, within the space of the 12 months since July 2013, arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members, including President Morsi, hundreds of others in Egyptian society, and numerous journalists all of which are now “on trial”. More than 150 people have already been sentenced to death in the show trial circus of the Egyptian “courts” and many more given lengthy jail terms.
In this latest round of judicial farce, Baher Mohamed from Egypt and Britons Sue Turton and Dominic Kane were sentenced to 10 years for aiding a terrorist organisation, while Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy were sentenced to seven years. International condemnation of both the “trial” and the resultant sentences has been swift and vocal. Even the Americans, who supported al-Sisi and his coup, have been paying lip service to the international condemnation with Kerry describing the news as “chilling and draconian”. Notwithstanding this American revulsion at these recent excesses, Washington was still able to release $584 million worth of military equipment and aid as the latest tranche of monthly “support” for the regime in Cairo. When it comes to hypocrisy, the Americans have few equals.
The “international community” will huff and puff, make all the right noises and call for the immediate release of the journalists, but will do nothing. As they will do nothing in response to the remaining show trials and the present death sentences, or the death sentences to come.
In international relations, Egypt joins the list of countries where the west considers expediency to be infinitely more important than justice.