Events in over thirty locations worldwide have piled further pressure on the Egyptian authorities to release Al Jazeera journalists they are holding.
Thursday’s global day of action in support of the four detainees spanned all the entire breadth of the world, starting in Sydney and finishing in San Francisco.
The activity meant that the hashtag #FreeAJStaff trended on Twitter worldwide once again, making 343m impressions on Thursday. This doubled the viral number seen during the whole of February. Over 35,000 tweets were sent on the day, allied with activity on other social media platforms.
Worldwide highlights included:
• Asia – events in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Yangon, Seoul, Islamabad and Kabul;
• Africa – events in Abuja and Johannesburg, while in Nairobi, the Foreign Correspondents Association elected Peter Greste as their chairman in solidarity;
• Middle East – events in Sanaa (with nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman), Ramallah and Beirut;
• Europe – balloons being released in London’s Trafalgar Square, and events in Paris and Berlin;
• North America – an event at the Newseum in Washington DC, and a billboard at Times; Square in New York. The White House again called for the release of the journalists;
• South America - A plane flying a #FreeAJStaff tail banner along the Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro;
• Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha coming to a remarkable standstill in solidarity with their colleagues.
Four Al Jazeera journalists are detained by the Egyptian authorities. Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah Elshamy has been held since last August without charge, and has been on hunger strike in protest since January 21st. Three Al Jazeera journalists - Baher Mohammed, Mohammed Fahmy and Peter Greste -were detained on December 29. Their next court hearing is on March 5.
Thanking everyone who took part in the day of action, Al Jazeera Media Network’s acting Director General Mostefa Souag said:
“We are grateful for all the solidarity everyone has shown, but we know also that this is not just about us at Al Jazeera. People are speaking out as loudly and clearly as they are because of what this means for press freedoms.
“There are two courses of action the Egyptian authorities must take to resolve this situation. Firstly, they should remove Abdullah Elshamy from a mass case involving 700 people they swept up during a demonstration last August. He must be treated as a journalist, and released immediately.
“Secondly, the charges against Mohammed, Baher, and Peter should be dropped at next week’s hearing.”