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Egypt: new Batel campaign launched for release of elderly and sick prisoners

Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on February 11, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on 11 February 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

A new campaign has been launched in Egypt for the release of elderly and sick prisoners, The New Khaleej reported on Tuesday. The latest campaign by Batel, a campaigning group created by Egyptian opposition figures in 2018, was announced on Facebook in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Thousands of elderly prisoners are in prison but no one talks about their situation," explained Batel. "It is as if staying in prison until they die has become normal."

The campaign group called for human rights organisations to highlight the harsh conditions endured by elderly and sick prisoners in Egypt's prisons run by the Sisi regime. It asks such organisations to put pressure on the regime to release them, regardless of their political affiliation.

"What benefit does the regime get from detaining a woman who is more than 60 years old simply because of her political opposition, or that of her family?" asked Batel. "What danger does an elderly man who is over 70 or 80 years old pose to Al-Sisi and his regime?"

READ: Financial crises, corruption cripple Egypt plans to develop rural areas

Rights groups estimate that there are more than 60,000 political prisoners held by Al-Sisi's regime. The overwhelming majority are connected in some way to the Muslim Brotherhood. All suffer from harsh conditions and hundreds have died behind bars.

Batel — "void" — in Arabic, was launched in March 2018 to oppose the amendments to the Egyptian Constitution which paved the way for Al-Sisi to remain president until 2030.

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