The Price of Photography: pictures by Shawkan
WhenFriday 3 August 2018
3 August 2018 open 13:00–17:00hrs BST
4–31 August 1018 open daily 10:00–17:00hrs BST
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Great St Mary's Church, Senate House Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PQ
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner will open Amnesty’s exhibition of photographs by Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan on Friday 3 August at 1pm in Great St Mary’s Church. Cambridge City Amnesty group are campaigning for Shawkan (Mahmoud Abu Zeid) as he is still in pre-trial detention five years after his arrest in 2013 for merely doing his job – taking photos.
Shawkan recently won the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize and his work is internationally recognised, having appeared in many publications, including Time magazine, Die Zeit and The Sun.
In August 2013, Shawkan was arrested and beaten by police for covering a violently repressed sit-in in Cairo by supporters of former President Morsi though he himself took no part in it. He has been in detention ever since and has been denied medical care by the authorities, despite suffering from Hepatitis C.
On 3 March 2018, the prosecutor called publicly for the death sentence for all 739 defendants involved in the court case arising from the repression of the 2013 sit-in – including Shawkan.
The exhibition features photographs taken by Shawkan in the course of his work as a freelance photojournalist working in Cairo, and taken in the period between the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2013, and Shawkan’s arrest in August 2013. The photographs depict daily life in Cairo at the time, and the tense political atmosphere as Egypt experienced a transition from the end of the near-30 year rule of Mubarak, through an intensive period of political experimentation and institution-building, to a new and far more severe military regime.
Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to sign letters to the President of Egypt requesting Shawkan’s release and to have their own photo taken with a giant "FREE SHAWKAN” poster.
Liesbeth Ten Ham, Amnesty’s Regional Representative for East Anglia, said: “I hope that many people in Cambridge will enjoy seeing Shawkan's photographs which were taken in Cairo in the two years prior to his arrest in August 2013. They show daily life as well as the tense political atmosphere. We hope that many will be inspired to sign our letter to the Egyptian government and that he will be promptly released.”
The exhibition at Great St Mary’s is open daily 10am to 5pm.
Shawkan is being tried along with 738 defendants, many of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was arrested with two foreign photojournalists, both of whom were released on the same day.
Although all he did was to document events on the day, this means that he is facing charges relating to 24 offences, including: “joining a criminal gang”; “murder”; “attempted murder”; and “overthrowing the regime through the use of force and violence.”
The current government in Egypt, headed by President al-Sisi, has been responsible for widespread human rights abuses in the country, and is widely considered to be significantly harsher than that of President Hosni Mubarak. There are estimated to be between 40,000 and 60,000 people in jail in Egypt for political reasons, many of them former supporters of President Morsi. Torture is endemic in Egyptian prisons and detention centres and forced disappearances are increasingly common.
For details of the Press Freedom Award
Further details and contact information
Sue Woodsford, Amnesty International Cambridge City Group