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"They silence all opposition" - work

“They silence all opposition” – work

When journalist and trade unionist Yahia Kallash heard that the second AP fund was lending Swedish pensions to the Egyptian regime, he said that while he welcomed foreign loans, they should demand counter-measures to increase independence in Egypt.

“They are suffocating the unions and silencing all opposition, which is dangerous,” he said, referring to the regime of President al-Sisi.

A sandstorm is approaching, and the sky turns orange when the streets are empty in the fenced-out suburb of Cairo, known as the Journalist City.

The area was built over 20 years ago to house members of the Journalists’ Association and most of the residents here are established journalists. Since the streets are empty, it is in the clubhouse in the center of the area. Yahya Kallash sat at a table in a cold room and asked an employee to have coffee.

They suffocate the unions and silence all opposition, which is dangerous.

Yahya Kallash

Police conducted a search of the union premises

Kallash, 67, has been with the union for 40 years. After being on the board for many years, he was elected president of the Egyptian Press Association in 2015. But after a vicious crackdown on union premises in Cairo on May 1, 2016, he finished his job.

It was only when the police raided the opposition that two journalists critical of the regime demanded protection from their union. But police entered the building and arrested both journalists and Kallash.

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2016. Union activists carry Yahya Kallas on their shoulders during a demonstration against dictatorship.

The union leader was sentenced to life in prison

Two journalists have been remanded in custody for four months on suspicion of violating the country’s security.

Gallas was sentenced to two years in prison for concealing suspected offenders, and he is still appealing.

He was also fired as a reporter for al-Ghomhuria, the state-owned and most influential daily in Egypt. Today, Kallash occasionally writes for various publications.

– He says whether they release me or not depends on what problems they are willing to face from the authorities.

30 journalists are imprisoned every year

Here in the vacant clubhouse at Journalistaden, you can talk openly about dangerous topics elsewhere. About the threats against the unions, about the lack of press freedom. About 30 journalists have been imprisoned each year since the 2013 military coup.

Admittedly, since its founding in 1941, the Swedish Press Association has always faced opposition.

– We live on the edge of democracy, our freedom is so limited that we say it is only enough to survive. He says now we stand beyond the boundaries of democracy.

Trade in Egypt

In connection with the Arab Spring of 2011, the independent trade union movement emerged and gained more prominence in society, but in 2013 the development was halted by a military coup.

In recent years, conditions have worsened. Ituc, the world’s trade union, has branded Egypt one of the ten worst countries in the world in terms of trade union rights.

Until 2011, the state-controlled EFT was the only permitted trade union organization. Mandatory membership for work permit. The EFT claims to have 4.5 million members and actively supported General al-Sisi in the presidential election.

On paper, independent unions are allowed, but the process of registering a union is tricky and arbitrary. The strikes have been reduced and unionists are being prosecuted in special security courts.

Source: Union to Union