Sister of Alaa Abdel-Fattah confirms activist brother is on hunger strike in Egypt
Sister of leading pro-democracy British, Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah refuted late on Monday evening an official claim that her brother had not been on hunger strike at the notorious Tora maximum-security prison.
“Unbelievable! According to a [high-level] ‘security official’ on Egyptian TV, Alaa is not on hunger strike, he is eating three meals a day, he walks around and he isn't even at a maximum-security prison!” his sister, Mona Seif, posted on her Facebook page following the TV show.
“So apparently, we are lying, today is not day 45 of his hunger strike, Alaa is in perfect health and dreamy prison conditions. WHY prevent the UK consular visit for months and prevent them from being witness to your exemplary prisons?” she questioned, tagging the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office UK in Egypt.
The 40-year Abdel-Fattah and his two sisters, Sana and Mona Seif, originally Egyptian nationals, had been granted UK passports for being the children of a mother born in Britain.
Talk show host Khairy Ramadan said on privately-owned Al-Kahera Wal Nas satellite TV channel, citing a security source that “Abdel-Fattah is not on hunger strike, receiving all his meals… and he also has the right to buy food from the supermarket [cafeteria].”
“This means he moves around inside the prison,” Ramadan commented, suggesting that Abdel-Fattah is jailed inside the newly-opened modern Wadi El-Natroun correctional facility, not at Tora.
Ramadan’s statements, however, contradicted those of Moushira Khattab, former diplomat and president of the state-run national council for human rights, to the same show two days earlier.
“Alaa Abdel-Fattah is serving time and hasn’t complained about maltreatment. I coincidently happened to be in touch with his family…his demands are that he needs ‘more’ books, the opportunity to have a walk in the prison yard and to receive visits without a glass partition [that separates him from his visitors],” Khattab told Ramadan.
“His health has been influenced [by the hunger strike] and he likes to be under medical supervision. That’s why there was an appeal for him to join one of the newly-opened correctional facilities,” she said, adding that she was expected to visit him after getting official approval.
Abdel-Fattah, also a computer programmer and a blogger, was a leading figure in the 2011 revolution, mobilising young people in the uprising that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
He was first sentenced in 2014 after being convicted of taking part in an unauthorised protest and allegedly assaulting a police officer. He was released in 2019 after serving a five-year term but was rearrested later that year in a crackdown that followed rare anti-government protests and convicted about two years later of disseminating false news.
Egypt's government under the president of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has been accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing the country's worst crackdown on human rights in decades, with about 60,000 of its critics currently behind bars. Some have suffered medical negligence and were left to die slowly, while dozens others were executed.