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Egypt: Walid Shawky starts hunger strike after four years in prison

February 14, 2022 at 11:16 am

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

An Egyptian political prisoner and former leading member of the April 6 movement detained since 2018 has started a hunger strike to protest being in jail for over three years.

Walid Shawky, a dentist, was arrested at his clinic in the Al-Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood of Cairo on 14 October and forcibly disappeared for a week.

Police denied knowing where he was, but his family later found out he was held in Al-Sayeda Zainab police station for six days.

After being arrested Shawky was accused of joining an illegal group, misusing social media and spreading false news.

Other April 6 members have had the same charges brought against them, including Amal Fathy, Sherif Ali Mohammed Ali El-Rouby.

Shady Hussein Abu Zeid and blogger Mohammed Oxygen have also had the same charges brought against them.

READ: Egypt prisoners tortured to give up names, says ex-detainee

After he had spent almost two years on remand a court ordered that Shawky be released on probation. However, prison authorities forcibly disappeared him for over a month then charged him with participating in protests in 2020, which was impossible since he was still detained at that time.

Shawky is still in pretrial detention after being “rotated” onto a new case, also known as being trapped in the “revolving door” of Egypt’s prison system, a punitive measure designed to prolong political prisoners’ detention.

The April 6 movement helped coordinate the January 2011 uprising and was once one of the most prominent opposition groups in the country.

They also organised demonstrations in support of Palestine, to support judicial independence and end torture and police brutality.

As part of a widening crackdown, authorities have arrested, tortured and detained former dissidents which analysts say is revenge for taking part in the demonstrations and a measure to make sure a revolution does not happen again.

According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Shawky has not been aligned with the opposition since the military coup in 2013.