Last night I met Australian journalist Peter Greste at the Sydney launch of the book Prison Post at Berkelouw bookshop. Prison Post is a collection of letters of support for Peter Greste received while he was in prison in Egpyt. A few weeks ago, I received an email from the publisher saying that my letter to Peter may be published. When I arrived at the launch I ran into my writing teacher Patti Miller who told me that my email had indeed been included in the book.
Peter Greste is now a free man, despite being sentenced last weekend in absentia by an Egyptian court who conducted his trial with no evidence. Unfortunately his Al Jazeera colleagues Egyptian-Canadian producer Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed are back in prison after a Cairo court sentenced the three journalists to three years in jail after finding them guilty of “aiding a terrorist organisation,” a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The verdict sparked worldwide outrage.
Peter Greste’s family campaigned tirelessly for his release. They set up an email account for messages of support they could print out to take him on their visits. Last night, Editia publisher Charlotte Harper spoke warmly about how the book came about, and Australian comedian and writer Wendy Harmer read funny letters to Peter that he had received from around the world. Then it was Peter Greste’s turn to speak. He told us that our letters had kept him going on very bleak days in his 400 days in prison. He spoke about how he saved the letters to read and how his brothers had told Peter during their visits that thousands of people from around the world were behind him. The letters kept Peter connected to the outside world.
While I’m thrilled to be included in this publication and I want everyone to buy it because the proceeds go to supporting people in prison around the world, we need to work to get Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed released from jail. Peter Greste last night urged us all to keep tweeting, using the hashtag #FreeAJstaff and also to pressure our local MPs to raise the case with the Egyptian government. Peter Greste is now a fugitive for a crime he didn’t commit. And we need to let his wrongly imprisoned journalist colleagues know we haven’t forgotten them. We can send emails to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journalists must be free to report on the world’s atrocities and joys. Living in Australia we take press freedom for granted. It is time we stood up and used our voices for good.
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Is going out with a friend’s ex a step too far, or simply husband recycling?
Is dressing like a dishevelled, slutty cougar a fashion felony or merely community service? It pays to advertise after all.
Is leaving your fighting children in the car at the shopping centre for 15 minutes while you dash into the shops wrong or the best thing to stop you shouting at them?
Is turning a blind eye in the supermarket fruit and veg section while your children gobble up the grapes and berries considered stealing or simply an affordable way to help your kids eat their five serves a day?
Will your toddler turn into a delinquent if you let them carry out their own eat what you find Easter egg hunt in your local shop 10 minutes before closing time on Easter Saturday? Or only if your child catches you hiding the foil wrappers from the security cameras?
Teenagers are expensive and cat food is cheap. Is telling your children that you make a ‘special meatloaf’ wrong?
Is it a crime to send your obviously underage 16 year old to the local RSL to win the meat tray raffle even though the slab of dead animal will feed your family for a week?