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Over 70 days on hunger strike for British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfattah

June 13, 2022 at 10:52 am

Alaa Abdelfattah [Twitter]

British-Egyptian writer and political activist Alaa Abdelfattah has spent over 70 days on hunger strike in an Egyptian prison demanding that he receives a consular visit.

Alaa’s sister Mona Seif wrote on Twitter that during a recent visit to see her brother she discovered that a letter he had written the previous week hadn’t been delivered to them.

Mona said he lost a lot of weight since she last saw him on 1 May.

On 7 June Alaa’s aunt Ahdaf Soueif wrote on Twitter that “we are starting to think that it’s the intention of Egypt Gov to let Alaa die in prison.”

Alaa began a hunger strike on the first day of Ramadan (2 April) this year to demand the consular visit and that the conditions of his detention improve.

The famous blogger was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison for “broadcasting false news” and was beaten and tortured.

Alaa was kept in a cell with no windows and denied pens, books and sending letters.

READ: Egypt hands death sentence to murderer of Coptic priest

As pressure built in the West through sustained media coverage of Alaa’s case, he was transferred from the maximum-security jail where he was being held to Wadi El-Natroun Prison, where he was given more access to medical facilities and able to sleep on a mattress for the first time in three years.

Several UK politicians have spoken out about his case, including Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, Minister of State Foreign Commonwealth and Development Affairs Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

In May, Sultana wrote a letter to the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss saying that close ties between Britain and Egypt “makes a mockery of claims that British foreign policy is driven by the promotion of democracy, freedom, and cooperation with states that adhere to a ‘rules-based international system’.”

Alaa’s continued incarceration comes as the Egyptian government announced it will hold its first sessions of the national political dialogue during the first week of July.

The dialogue has been criticised by human rights advocates for being an attempt to calm criticism of its human rights abuses abroad whilst changing very little on the ground.