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Cancer also threatens post-coup Egypt's prisoners

Nearly 800 anti-regime opponents have been diagnosed with cancer in Egyptian prisons
Image of a prison cell [Derek Key/Flickr]
Prison cell [Derek Key/Flickr]

Amid reports of mass abuses against anti-regime opponents, cancer is adding to the plight of thousands of political prisoners languishing in Egyptian jails.

"My husband is suffering from both prison and cancer," Hala Awad, the wife of prisoner Nadi Fathi Jahin, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

Jahin, 50, is serving a 15-year jail term issued by a military court for allegedly burning a government building following the 2013 coup against elected president Mohamed Morsi.

"In prison, he began to suffer from bleeding, fainting and weakness," Awad recalled.

According to his wife, Jahin's health deteriorated at the Borg al-Arab prison in the coastal city of Alexandria.

"He was diagnosed with cancer," Awad said. She said his disease has been brought under control as a result of his chemotherapy.

"However, the situation deteriorated again when [authorities] stopped his therapy, which resulted in the spread of cancer to his lungs," she said.

Awad has applied for a medical pardon for her cancer-diagnosed husband. "Until this moment, we did not get any reply to our appeal for pardon," she said.

Since 2013, Egypt's military-backed authorities have launched a relentless crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds of supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group and detaining tens of thousands.

According to the Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedom, an NGO, around 790 anti-regime opponents are diagnosed with cancer at Egyptian prisons.

Read: Medical negligence kills 427 prisoners in Egypt

Medical neglect

Mohamed Shmeis, 64, who is serving a 15-year jail term for allegedly inciting violence, was diagnosed with skin cancer at prison.

"My father first noticed spots on his skin and suffered weakness and lack of sleep," his daughter Zahraa told Anadolu Agency.

Though he tried several treatments, Shmeis's health has not improved.

"Finally we discovered that my father was suffering from skin cancer after we had his blood tested," Zahraa said.

In October, local media reported the death of prisoner Mohannad Ihab, in his 20s, from cancer.

The same month, an Egyptian judge ordered the release of another youth, Hosni al-Masekh, after his health had deteriorated in prison due to cancer.

In November, the same judge ordered the release of Atef Salah, who was diagnosed with liver cancer.

In January, prisoner Ashraf Hasan died from lung cancer in the prison in the canal city of Port Said.

"Since 2013, around 32 prisoners have died from cancer," Abdullah al-Naggar, director of the Arab-African Centre for Freedoms and Human Rights, said.

He accused Egyptian authorities of medical neglect against jailed political opponents.

"Violations being committed by Egyptian authorities run counter to all international charters," he said.

There was no comment from Egyptian authorities regarding the issue, but they often deny accusations of medical neglect against prisoners.

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