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Egypt prison authorities raid cells of prisoners protesting death of journalist

File photo of the entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]
Entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]

Egyptian prison authorities have raided a number of cells in the Scorpion wing of Tora Prison as a punitive measure following the death of a journalist over the weekend.

Authorities confiscated the detainees’ belongings after prisoners went on hunger strike in protest against the death of Mahmoud Abdel Magid.

Mahmoud, 46, died on Saturday evening in his cell in the Scorpion after being deliberately denied medical care, suffering from the cold and not being given enough to eat.

Mahmoud’s mother died in 2015 from the grief of watching her son serve a life sentence, according to Al Jazeera Arabic. He was supporting a family of five.

Human rights groups have urgently warned against prison conditions inside Egypt, where some 60,000 political prisoners are held in overcrowded, animal infested cells with not enough food or clean water.

READ: Egypt activist dies in Scorpion prison after medical negligence

Some only leave their cell for one hour a day and cook and go to the toilet all in the same space.

Since the beginning of winter, rights groups have warned of conditions in the concrete cells where detainees are only given thin clothes, are often not allowed blankets and forced to shower with cold water.

Since Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow in a military coup, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has embarked on the most severe crackdown in the country’s history, targeting political opponents including women and children.

At least 4,000 people were arrested in September after rare protests erupted in the country.

According to Human Rights Watch between March and August 2015 the Interior Ministry under Magdy Abd Al-Ghaffar banned all visits to the Scorpion, prevented families delivering food and medicine, essentially implementing a “starvation” policy.

Over six months of that year at least six detainees died there.

Late last year a number of detainees in the Scorpion wing went on hunger strike in protests against conditions inside.

Hunger strikers were reprimanded with beatings and electric shocks in an attempt to break the strike.

The graveyard: An inside look into Scorpion Prison

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