Free Shawkan


shawkan and camera1

“Dream high, and stay strong enough to face whatever reality brings.” –Shawkan

Today I woke up today to the news that Shawkan was supposed to be in court again today.  Photojournalist Shawkan – aka Mahmoud Abou Zeid – has been held in Egypt’s notorious Tora prison without a trial for more than two years.  For taking pictures.  The case was postponed yet again, but I finally took the opportunity to go to SimpleWiki and write the first Wikipedia article for Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Arabic محمود أبو زيد) who is known professionally as Shawkan (Arabic شوكان).  Alas, the stub I created on Arabic Wikipedia has already been discovered by the majnoon deletionists. (And recreated, amazing grace, by someone on 10/22/2016, now linked internally via Wikidata, and with a new article on eswiki)

Shawkan’s photos have been published in internationally recognized news outlets like Time magazine, Die Zeit, Amnesty International, and Global Voices.  His situation has been covered in such impeccably reliable sources as the Guardian, the IndependentGlobal Voices, ABC (Australia), and of course, Amnesty International, where you can also read about it in French, Spanish, or Arabic, as well as a smattering of local Middle Eastern and African sources.  There is even a new photojournalism prize named after him, the Shawkan Photo Awards. And of course a Twitter hashtag, #FreeShawkan.

A letter from Shawkan was smuggled out of Tora prison, detailing the crowded conditions and torture in the prison.

“Tora prison is like a cemetery. It is a place where dreams come to die…I share a cell with twelve political prisoners. We live in a small cell just 3 meters x 4 meters…I have not been charged with a single crime…I am a photojournalist, not political, not a criminal.”

[Update: Shawkan has a shiny new International Press Freedom Award, as well as some press exposure in the NYT. Amnesty International UK sponsored an exhibition Nov. 28.  See also Freedom For Shawkan on FB. [11/26/2016]


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