Hunger strike enters 12th day in notorious Egyptian prison

Hunger strike enters 12th day in notorious Egyptian prison
Inmates at al-Aqrab prison, one of the most notorious jails in the Arab world began a hunger strike 12 days ago protesting inhumane conditions and treatment.
2 min read
02 March, 2016
al-Aqrab prison has been described as Egypt's 'Guantanamo Bay' [Latuff/Rassd]
More than twenty detainees have gone on hunger strike in Egypt's notorious al-Aqrab prison to protest dire conditions in the facility which holds up to 1000 political prisoners.

Strikers used the slogans "I am human" and "dying to live" to demand basic rights including extended family visiting hours in compliance with Egyptian law, and basic supplies such as medicine, clothes and blankets which have been denied to prisoners.

The strike, involving prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian journalists, is entering its twelfth day.

"The hunger strike came after two weeks of insults and attacks against the families of detainees during their visits, as they were prevented from entering for normal visits since the 10 February," read a statement from the Association of al-Aqrab Prison Detainees' Families on facebook.

The daughter of Khairet el-Shater, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, filed a lawsuit to remove the glass that separates families from detainees during visits and is illegal under Egyptian law. The hearing was postponed to April.

"They pushed them into a hunger strike," Dr Manar al-Tantawy, wife of jailed journalist Hesham Gaafar, told Mada Masr.

"The violent treatment, lack of supplies, the crippling restrictions and the dangers their families face outside the prison facility while waiting to visit - they all forced them to start a hunger strike."

Photos of detainees before and after their imprisonment were posted by the Egyptian Coordination Centre for Rights and Freedoms, demonstrating their deteriorating health.

The group also reported that solidarity confinement and beatings were frequently used as punishment.

Former Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad, who is currently being held in solitary confinement, said in court yesterday that many of the detainees also "received death threats" while in prison.

"This prison is under very strict guardianship; its administration is committing several violations concerning prisoners' rights, this needs to be improved promptly," member of the quasi-governmental National Human Rights Council Nasr Amin told Daily News Egypt.

Al-Aqrab prison was built in 1993 when Habib al-Adly was interior minister and has been described as Egypt's Guantanamo Bay.

Egyptian activists took to social media to express solidarity with the plight of the prisoners.