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Egypt prisoner Alaa Abdelfattah's family beaten outside Tora Prison

Laila Soueif, mother of Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfattah (L), and his sister Mona Seif at Tora prison [Mona Seif/Twitter]
Laila Soueif, mother of Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfattah (L), and his sister Mona Seif at Tora prison [Mona Seif/Twitter]

The family of political prisoner Alaa Abdelfattah have been beaten up outside Tora Prison.

Laila Soueif, Sanna and Mona Seif were waiting outside Tora Prison where Alaa is detained, demanding a letter he wrote be delivered to them.

According to Mona Seif, Alaa's sister, she and her family were dragged by the hair and their clothes torn by two women as the police looked on and did nothing to help.

Mona posted pictures of the cuts and grazes on her ankles and hands.

"This is an act of the beltagaya," says activist and human rights defender Ahmed El-Attar in reference to thugs hired by the government who infiltrate protests to attack demonstrators.

Alaa Abdelfattah was arrested in September last year as part of a sweep of activists and former prisoners at that time in response to Egyptian whistleblower Mohamed Ali's calls to protest.

Alaa had only been out of prison for six months after serving a five-year sentence for organising a protest without authorisation.

READ: Egypt surpasses 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

He was granted conditional release on probation and had to spend every night in a police station for five years.

Not long after his arrest from the police station, news spread that he was stripped, blindfolded, beaten and verbally abused. His lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer was also arrested and ill-treated.

Alaa was transferred to Tora's maximum-security prison Al-Aqrab 2, kept in a cell with poor ventilation and prevented from buying food and water from the prison canteen.

In April Alaa went on hunger strike for a month to protest against the conditions of his detention and the fact that his family haven't been allowed to visit him since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has continued to ban visitors.

On 18 March his mother and aunt were imprisoned after they held a protest calling for the release of prisoners, but were released shortly afterwards.

Over recent months, images of Laila Soueif have circulated lying down in front of the prison where she was trying to deliver medicine.

Under the current regime medicine has been blocked and medical care denied to the prisoners which has resulted in a number of deaths.

Activists have called on the Egyptian government to release prisoners to ease overcrowding to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"As a human rights defender I'm proud of these women," says El-Attar. "Imagine if all the wives and sisters of the political prisoners in Egypt stood in front of the prisons and demanded their rights."

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