More detainees join hunger strike as activists start campaign

Activist Ahmed Douma, April 6 Youth Movement co-founder Mohamed Adel, Wael Metwally and Mohamed Abdel Rahman started a hunger strike on Wednesday in solidarity with fellow detainee activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, the lawyer representing the Shura council defendants, Osama al-Mahdy, told Mada Masr.

The activists also launched a campaign titled, “We are fed up,” asking other detainees on protest-related charges to join them, as well as calling for the support of people on the outside, Mahdy said.

Lawyers and supporters of the hunger strikers are starting a social media campaign to support the movement.

Mahdy recounts that the prison authorities refused to allow lawyers into a scheduled visit with Abd El Fattah, Abdel Rahman and Metwally on Tuesday and also denied entry to Douma’s wife, Norhan Hefzy, who had obtained a permit for the visit. Mahdy says that this is in reaction to the hunger strikes.

Abd El Fattah’s family released a statement on Tuesday announcing that he had started an open-ended hunger strike on Monday until his release. Abd El Fattah’s decision was spurred by an authorized visit to his father, lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam, who is in critical condition in hospital following heart surgery.

Abd El Fattah, Metwally and Abdel Rahman were sentenced to 15 years in absentia in June, along with 21 others. The three were taken into custody on the day of the verdict, while the remaining defendants were not detained. They face charges of protesting with no permit, assaulting a police officer, blocking the road, vandalism and other charges.

In August, the judge renewed the detention of the three and scheduled the next session for September 10. Lawyers believe this means the defendants will remain in custody until the judge reaches a verdict in their appeal, which could drag on for one or two years.

Adel and Douma were sentenced to three years in jail along with April 6 Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher in December for similar charges.

Abd El Fattah and his colleagues join a widespread wave of hunger strikes in several prisons, which includes detainees serving sentences related to pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests.

On August 8, two sisters Rasha and Hind Mounir commenced a hunger strike from Qanater Women’s Prison. The two were arrested while participating in an Islamist march near downtown’s Ramses Square on August 16, 2013, and have been sentenced to 25 years.

18-year-old Ibrahim Halawa, an Egyptian-Irish national was arrested along with his three sisters during protests near Ramses Square last summer and and has been in Tora prison without charge ever since. He reportedly began a hunger strike, while still consuming liquids, in protest over his conditions and lack of due-process.

Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan has been on hunger strike for the past 205 days from Tora Prison. Soltan was arrested whilst participating in a march supporting Morsi, although like many others he hasn’t been formally charged. 

Islamist activist Ibrahim al-Yamany has also reportedly been on hunger strike for the past 126 days from Wadi Natrun Prison. 


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