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Egyptian families launch 'warmth for prisoners' campaign

December 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm

“Who ever is arrested or imprisoned or incarcerated should be treated in an honorable and dignified manner. Such a person should not be tortured or terrorised or compelled or physically or morally hurt. Such a person should not be held or jailed except in places dedicated for this person and humanely and medically appropriate. The State has the duty to provide for the special needs of people with handicaps. The violation of any of the above shall be considered a crime punishable by law.”- (Article 55 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014)

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No exception to this is permitted.”- (Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing and housing.”- (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

“All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”- (Article 10 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights)

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”- (Article 7 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights)

Tens of thousands of Egyptian political prisoners are languishing in Egyptian prisons. They include children, youth and elderly people and include both men and women. Many of these prisoners suffer from acute or chronic diseases that threaten their wellbeing inside prisons. These prisoners endure extremely bad health conditions inside prisons. They have no protection from severe cold. As a result many have fallen acutely ill for long periods of time. In addition, the health conditions of persons with chronic diseases deteriorated further, especially among the elderly, to the point of threatening their lives.

The families of the prisoners and the lawyers that represent them have repeatedly sought officially as well as unofficially to deliver winter clothing, thick blankets and medicines, which are considered urgent and vital needs in order to maintain their health and even save their lives. Yet, all these attempts have failed due to the rejection and obstinance of the management of some of the prisons, especially in the prisons of Turra region (the annex to Turrah Farm, Al-Aqrab 1 and Al-Aqrab 2) in addition to the prisons of Burj Al-Arab and Wadi Al-Natrun region.

The needs of prisoners, including clothes, blankets and medicines, are basic rights enshrined in the Egyptian constitution for every Egyptian whose freedom is restricted in any form on top of the necessity of providing them with the necessary protection in order to keep them safe and secure.

In 2014 and 2013, Egypt suffered from harsh cold weather during the winter months. The country occasionally had snow falls and saw a sharp decline in temperature and a severe rise in humidity, something Egypt had not seen before. This winter is likely to bring even more suffering and ill health to prisoners in the harsh weather conditions.

Accordingly, we – families of political prisoners – have decided to take the initiative to launch a campaign called “warmth for prisoners”. This is a purely human rights and humanitarian campaign whose objective is to support the rights of the prisons to warmth during the harsh winter so as to safeguard their health and their lives.

The “warmth for prisoners” campaign is a human rights and humanitarian campaign that is not affiliated to any political or religious current or party. The campaign supports the right of all prisoners to obtain the needed winter clothes and blankets irrespective of religion or political affiliation or the nature of indictment case. We demand Egyptian prison administrations, which incarcerate our children and relatives, to permit us to bring to them their needs – clothing, blankets and medicines – so as to be able to resist the severe decline in temperature and the sharp rise in the rate of humidity inside Egyptian prisons. We call on all Egyptians to join us and support our constitutional demand to ensure the safety or our children and relatives who are suffering severely in prison in what may be considered a process of slow death. We see them wither and fade away before our own eyes while we are unable to help them.

At exactly 12:00 noon on 9 January 2016, we will hold a solidarity sit-in in front of the National Council for Human Rights during which a memorandum comprising the demands of the prisoners and their families will be handed to the Council’s Secretary General. At the same time, several solidarity sit-ins will be held by Egyptians and human rights supporters abroad in front of Egyptian embassies in a number of countries with the aim of highlighting the plight of the prisoners and supporting their rights. We hope that this campaign will receive the necessary support in order for its voice to reach far and wide and for the needs of the prisoners to be met. We hope that the authorities will respond to us and meet our demands in order to protect the lives of our children inside Egyptian prisons.

The families of political prisoners in the prisons of Turra Farm Annex, Al-Aqrab 1, Al-Aqrab 2, Burj Al-Arab and Wadi Al-Naturn.

Visit Blankets4Prisoners on Facebook for more information.