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Egypt: Fears grow for Alaa Abdelfattah as he reaches 45 days on hunger strike

May 17, 2022 at 11:02 am

Protestors and human right activists gather outside the National Assembly to protest against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s visit to France, in Paris on 8 December 2020. [Alaattin Doğru – Anadolu Agency]

Alaa Abdelfattah has been on hunger strike for 45 days as he continues to demand a visit from British embassy officials.

The well-known Egyptian activist was arrested in September 2019 as part of a roundup of campaigners and political figures who were detained after Egyptian whistleblower Mohamed Ali called for protests against the ruling regime.

Alaa was sentenced to five years in prison for “broadcasting false news” and is currently being held in a maximum-security jail in a cell with no light in pre-trial detention.

At the beginning of May Alaa said goodbye to his family during a prison visit as his health continues to deteriorate amid a lack of medical checks.

His mother Laila Soueif said he has lost weight and is weak. Alaa has been beaten and tortured and barred from writing letters and reading books.

In September last year Alaa told his lawyer he was considering suicide because of how bad the conditions of his detention are, in particular the isolation.

READ: Egypt arrests freekeh farmers amid wheat crisis

“I am in a dreadful situation. I can’t carry on. Take me out of this prison. I will commit suicide,” he told his lawyer Khaled Ali at the time.

To discredit Alaa’s recent hunger strike, state-run media broadcast that Alaa is eating three meals a day at the prison canteen.

Mona Seif, Alaa’s sister, wrote on Twitter that she had filed a case against the public prosecutor Hamada Elsawy for negligence towards her family.

Alaa recently became a British citizen whilst in prison through his mother who was born in London, and Mona has urged officials to act before her brother dies.

Last week Labour MP Zarah Sultana spoke out in support of Alaa and called on the British government to redouble efforts to secure UK consular access for Alaa, summon the Egyptian ambassador and demand his immediate release.

Sultana also called on Egypt to stop harassing and intimidating Egyptians living in the UK, stop threatening British and British-Egyptian citizens on arrival in Egypt and put human rights and democracy at the heart of the UK’s relationship with the Sisi regime.

Britain maintaining close ties with Egypt “makes a mockery” of claims that democracy, freedom and cooperation drives Britain’s foreign policy, Sultana said in her letter to the foreign secretary.