Egyptian women journalists 'begin hunger strike for Alaa Abdel Fattah'
Three Egyptian women journalists have started a hunger strike in solidarity with jailed British-Egyptian political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has refused water for two days.
Eman Ouf, Mona Selim, and Racha Azab released a statement on the 'Egyptian Women Journalists' Facebook page announcing the start of their hunger strike and sit-in at the Egyptian Journalists Union.
Abdel Fattah has been on hunger strike in Egypt for 219 days to protest the conditions of his detention – which rights groups call unjust. He began a water strike in jail on Sunday, to coincide with the first day of the COP27 climate summit.
"We have gone on a hunger strike in solidarity with Alaa Abdel Fattah, to request the release of detained journalists and to defend press freedoms," Eman Ouf told The New Arab.
Freedom of the press has suffered over the past few years under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's rule.
"Let's just say our strike is connected in a fundamental way with events unfolding today and what will happen with Abdel Fattah," she added, stating that there are security cars and inspections taking place in the union.
The state of the union is a "mess", according to Ouf, who said no furniture is available for the women and there is no internet access.
The three women have invited other women journalists to join them in their protest, hoping to revive "the historic role of the Egyptian Press Union" and "open the public sphere in Egypt".
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak - who is in Egypt for COP27 - has pledged to "stress to President Sisi the importance that we attach to the swift resolution of Alaa's case", and said that resolving it is a "priority".
Local and international human rights groups estimate that Egypt has held as many as 60,000 political prisoners and detainees since Sisi seized control of the country in a military coup in 2013.