The family of Egyptian dissident Abdel Fattah is demanding proof of his life

The family of Egyptian dissident Abdel Fattah is demanding proof of his life


The family of imprisoned Egyptian dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is refusing food and water, on Wednesday demanded information about his health amid “rumours of force-feeding”.

International concern has grown since Abdel Fattah, 40, escalated his months-long hunger strike by also reducing fluids since Sunday, the start of Egypt-hosted UN climate change summit COP27.

His British-born mother, Laila Soueif, has made daily trips to Wadi al-Natroun prison, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Cairo, this week but has received no update or proof of life.

The activist’s sister, Mona Seif, said in a tweet that her mother was back in jail on Wednesday, where “they wouldn’t take Alaa’s letter from mom.”

“Does that mean he is in a state where he cannot receive a letter? Or is he no longer in this prison?” Said Seif. “This uncertainty can only be resolved if the Egyptian authorities give us answers!”

Abdel Fattah, a key figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, gained British citizenship this year.

The dissident’s aunt, writer Ahdaf Soueif, tweeted that “we can’t explain two days without letters” and said the family was concerned by “rumours of force-feeding and sleeping pills”.

She demanded that the British-Egyptian activist be transferred to Qasr al-Aini University Hospital, Cairo’s largest state medical facility, and be given access to lawyers and British embassy officials.

Abdel Fattah, a longtime democracy and rights activist, is serving a five-year sentence for “spreading false news” for sharing a Facebook post about police brutality.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have all expressed their concern and called for his release.

UN chief justice Volker Turk has warned Abdel Fattah’s “life is in grave danger”.

– “Urgent” request –

After returning from the world climate summit, Sunak told Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday that his “deep concerns… are becoming more urgent by the day”.

“We will continue to put pressure on the Egyptian government to resolve the situation,” he added.

“We want Alaa to be freed and reunited with his family as soon as possible.”

Human rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday that the British authorities “must obtain evidence of life and contribute to his release” and warned that “the Egyptian authorities are responsible for his life”.

The only update in recent days came from Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the President of COP27.

Shoukry told the media at the summit that Abdel Fattah – whose dual citizenship Cairo does not recognize – has access to “all necessary supplies in prison”.

Macron, after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday, said he had received assurances that Cairo “is committed to ensuring that ‘Abdel Fattah’s health’ is preserved” and that the situation “will be resolved in the coming years.” weeks and months” is solved.

But Ahdaf Soueif, the aunt, said that “the prison hospital is unlikely to be equipped to treat the rare case of a patient who has been living on 100 calories a day for six months” during his hunger strike.

COP27 activists have been widely posting on Twitter using the hashtag #FreeAlaa, and several speakers have ended by saying “They Haven’t Been Defeated Yet” – the title of the jailed activist’s book.

Human rights groups estimate that some 60,000 political prisoners are being held in Egypt, many in brutal conditions and overcrowded cells, allegations Cairo has denied.

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