Egyptian Journalists Without Rights launch website

Under the slogan "Free press and fair wages,” Journalists Without Rights celebrated the launch of their website late on Thursday at the headquarters of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), after a test period of 20 days.

The journalists' league, founded in 2008, strives for better working conditions and acts as an advocate for journalists in the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate (EJS).

"Over the last 18 years the [journalists’] syndicate has been retreating from its role of defending journalists and providing them with social and economic backing," said Amr Abdel Ghani, a member of the EJS's social fund.

"Journalist Without Rights has provided a platform for all journalists who are suffering because of their press organizations or the passiveness of the syndicate," added Abdel Ghani.

The head of ANHRI, Gamal Eid, which provides technical support for the new website, gave a word of advice to the group in his opening speech for the website launch.

"Journalists Without Rights can widen its circle by reaching out to similar initiatives in the Arab world," Eid said. "The site is significant as an independent workers’ group website which can help mobilize for better working conditions."

In December 2008, a handful of journalists, mainly from the independent-daily Al-Dostour and leftist Al-Badeel, founded Journalists Without Rights, initially to speed up the enrollment of journalists in the Journalists Syndicate.

The league, over the past two years, has mobilized several protests and issued statements in support of journalists' social, economic and human rights.

Earlier in July, the league called for a sit-in in support of al-Nahar, an Egyptian news website. Journalists had allegedly been assaulted by their editor-in-chief, who threatened to fire them with no legal justification.

"[Journalists Without Rights] ensured our complaints were widely discussed in the media at a time when the Journalists Syndicate was playing-down our cause," said Amer Ismail, a journalist from al-Nahar who, among a dozen other journalists, received an order to resign from his position.

"Insecure working conditions is a common complaint in public, private or party-owned press,” added Ismail.

The new website posts the group’s statements, campaigns and interactions in support of Egyptian as well as Arab journalists.

As the website shows, the biggest problem for Journalists Without Rights lies within media organizations.

"Our biggest enemies are the CEOs of newspapers who constantly take away journalists' minimal rights, and are powerful through their connections in the syndicates," said Radwan Adam, one of the league's founders and a journalist at Al-Dostour.  

"Our struggle starts in our work places, defending our colleagues, and then extends through our league to support other journalists as well."

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