Jailed journalists’ families bond as Baher Mohammed’s son born

Jailed Al Jazeera journalist Baher Mohammed became a father again this week, reported Kenya’s Standard Media Monday. His unjust jailing has however meant that he could not be at his wife Gehan’s side as she gave birth to their baby boy.

From his jail cell, Baher released a letter to the new arrival, to be named Haroun. The letter is a mix of sadness and hope for the child’s future, as well as some valuable wisdom for his two other children - four year old Hazem and three year old Fairouz.

Baher begins by sharing his hopes that there are better days ahead for Egypt.

At the close of the letter, Baher tells of the close bond between the families of the three imprisoned journalists. Australian-Latvian Peter Greste's parents, Lois and Juris, and Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy’s family are at the hospital to support his wife, Gehan, who was admitted to hospital earlier today.

“Finally Haroun, I want you to ask your Mama to forgive me because I couldn’t be with her the moment you arrived. I want you also to take it easy on her.

And by the way… the moment you will arrive you will meet two great Australians; the parents of Peter Greste, who is in prison (with) me, as well as the great Egyptian family of Mohamed Fahmy, my colleague. Together we are sharing this struggle and together we will celebrate your birth. They are your family and their sons’ are your father’s brothers. So don’t be shy of them.”

Below is the emotional letter that he wrote to his expected child and other children.

“Sorry because you were born where free people are behind bars, including your father. Sorry too because you have come to a society where its freedom’s restricted. But I promise you I will always fight for liberty. I don’t want you to give up on this society… because I am sure that soon everything will change for the better.”

He goes on to share his life lessons to his children: “My dear children, there are things I learnt and I want to share with you. I was always fighting for the truth in my career and that was not easy. Whatever it takes, keep looking for the truth and never be afraid of it. I want you all to maintain your dignity. It is one of your most precious values.

Always be patient because you will face lots of obstacles in your path. Always be good to all, even to those who treat you badly. Feel the pain of the others and keep trying to help them. If you feel you can help and make someone happy, never hesitate. If you can draw a smile on someone’s face… then take the action to draw this smile. My dear children… keep smiling because behind the clouds the sun always shines.”

Meanwhile Human Rights Watch on August 29 issued a letter to the UN Human Rights Council charging it with “failing to properly address” Egypt’s “deteriorating human rights situation”. Amongst other violations, the letter lists the suppression of free expression in the current detention of altogether 14 media workers, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, placing the country among the worst jailers of journalists worldwide, reported allafrica.com.

The letter signed by an array of international human rights groups urges ”the Government of Egypt to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and peaceful assembly, including those detained solely for membership in the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Peter Greste, whose father Juris is a Latvian citizen, also enjoys dual Australian-Latvian citizenship, therefore Latvian state officials have spoken out repeatedly on his behalf, while Latvia's consular authorities in Egypt are supporting the Greste family in their legal and diplomatic efforts to free their son and his colleagues.

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