Journalists, concerned citizens and friends of Anton Hammerl are planning demonstrations in Johannesburg and Cape Town this week to draw attention to the plight of the South African photographer being held by Gaddafi loyalists.
The Free Photographer Anton Hammerl Facebook group, which now has 1088 members, announced that a demonstration would take place outside Hyde Park Corner in Johannesburg at 12.00 on Thursday [April 21].
And there will be a protest in Cape Town on Wednesday, outside Parliament in Roeland Street, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.
Organiser Shayne Robinson said on the Facebook page – Free Anton Hammerl demo – Johannesburg – that “instead of holding a normal demo’, that most of us have been to, I am thinking about doing something a little different. We all know 99% of memorandums handed in most probably end up in the dustbin, so let’s ask the general public to try and help us”.
To this end, the group has decided to print copies of its petition with the relevant government email address so as to draw in citizen involvement to appeal to government to move more swiftly to secure his release.
“We can then hand these out to all the cars that stop at these robots over the period of an hour or two. I am figuring that we should be there from 12 to 2pm. This will enable different journos to attend in shifts.
“Our friend and colleague, photographer Anton Hammerl went missing in Libya on April 4. Reports say he was captured with Clare Gillis, Jim Folley and Manu Brabo near Brega and taken to a Tripoli detention centre appear to be false. We call on the authorities to do whatever it takes to FIND and BRING HOME our Anton. This protest is to show our distress at the pace this is taking and to urge the government to do more to find him. Bring as many people as you can, protest for Anton,” read the Facebook notice.
Robinson has also appealed for cash donations in order to print T-shirts. He can be contact via Facebook, link below.
In another poignant post, photographer Unai Aranzadi posted a photograph he took of Hammerl just prior to his being taken [with this story]. The caption reads: “Dear Anton, this is a picture that I took from you in the Brega Frontline. I’m sure that we will meet again, may be not in my hotel room, may be not having dinner in Benghazi or visiting the frontline, but with our loved ones, with a cold beer, in peace and safety. See you soon my frontline brother!”
The photographer then offers the photo, “free of rights” to anyone who needs it, as long as they credit him and raise awareness of Hammerl’s plight.
In the meantime, the Mail & Guardian reported earlier today that South Africa has partially re-opened its mission in Libya as part of an effort to track down the missing photojournalist.
“There are people on the ground who are following up leads,” International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane told a media briefing in Pretoria.