Creating new perspectives since 2009

Egyptian-British hunger striker's family receive 'proof of life' letter

November 14, 2022 at 2:39 pm

Supporters of the jailed British-Egyptian human rights activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah take part in a candlelight vigil outside Downing Street as he begins a complete hunger strike while world leaders arrive for COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in London, United Kingdom on November 06, 2022. [Wiktor Szymanowicz – Anadolu Agency]

The sister of Egyptian-British activist, Alaa Abdelfattah, said on Monday the family had received a letter from prison that served as “proof of life” from the hunger striker, Reuters reports.

Abdelfattah, who has been on hunger strike against his detention and prison conditions for more than 220 days, had said he was escalating his protest by ceasing to drink water on 6 November,  the opening day of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

Since then, his family and his lawyer had made repeated trips to the prison where he is detained north-west of Cairo, but had received no news on his condition.

“Alaa is alive, he says he’s drinking water again as of 12 November,” Sanaa Seif said on Twitter. “It’s definitely his handwriting. Proof of life, at last.”

The family shared a copy of the note, which said he was receiving medical attention and his vital signs were good. It also asked them to bring vitamins.

Abdelfattah’s strike has overshadowed United Nations climate talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, where several leaders have raised the case with Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, including US President, Joe Biden.

US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said after the meeting on Friday that Washington was doing everything it could to secure Abdelfattah’s freedom “as well as the release of a number of other political prisoners” in Egypt.

Since Abdelfattah obtained British citizenship in December, British officials have sought unsuccessfully to secure consular access. British Foreign Minister, James Cleverly, said on Monday the government would keep trying.

Abdelfattah’s lawyer, Khaled Ali, said he visited the prison but was unable to get approval to see Abdelfattah from prison officials for a second consecutive day, despite authorisation from the Public Prosecutor’s office.

“Why have they been refusing his lawyer access to him, even with a permit? Why did they hold this letter back from us for two days?” his sister, Sanaa, said in a statement.

“Alaa is still on hunger strike, the UK embassy has still failed to achieve consular access (and) he’s still arbitrarily detained with no end in sight.”

Since 2013, when then-army Chief, Sisi, ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, there has been a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent that has swept up liberals and leftists, as well as Islamists. Human rights groups say tens of thousands have been jailed.

Sisi, who became President in 2014, says security and stability are paramount, and denies there are political prisoners in Egypt.

READ: British-Egyptian hunger striker Alaa Abdelfattah in ‘good health’- Public Prosecution