On Wednesday, 10 prisoners announced that they would begin a hunger strike to protest five-year prison terms they have received for their alleged participation in April 25’s anti-government demonstrations that were prompted by the Egyptian government’s transfer of sovereign control of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
The 10 prisoners are among 47 who were arrested on April 25 in Dokki and Agouza and were sentenced to five-year prison terms on Sunday. The protesters were charged with inciting violence to overthrow the government, inciting attacks on police stations, joining a terrorist organization and preventing the president from carrying out his duties according to the Constitution.
In a statement issued on social media, the prisoners called the sentences they have received, “shocking and devoid of the most basic principles of justice,” adding that a hunger strike is the only recourse available to them.
“We love life, and this is exactly why we went ahead with this step. It was the only way we found. Today, we start our strike in defense of our dreams, our future, and the days of our lives that are being stolen from us in prison with no justification,” they said in the statement. The prisoners who have already begun the hunger strike stated that the remaining 37 will gradually join the protest.
Heba Mohamed, the wife of Nagy Kamel who is among those participating in the hunger strike, told Mada Masr that Kamel “had no hope in any other solution.”
Kamel’s health has deteriorated since he was arrested as he has suffered a high fever, continuous vomiting and seizures. Despite a prison doctor diagnosing Kamel with bronchitis, he was returned to prison.
Despite prisoners partaking in the hunger strike having informed prison authorities of their protest and lawyers contacting the prosecutor’s office, Ahmed Othman, Kamel’s lawyer, has been unable to confirm whether prison authorities have documented the hunger strike, as is mandated by law.
Othman told Mada Masr that prison authorities are not conducting health examinations on the prisoners who are participating in the hunger strike in accordance with Egyptian law.
On Sunday, another 54 people were sentenced in absentia in the same case while the Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanor Court sentenced 51 people arrested on April 25 to two-year prison terms on similar charges in another case.
Dozens of prisoners have conducted hunger strikes since 2013 when the rate of political detention increased. Mohamed Soltan, the son of Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Salah Soltan, was released from prison in May 2015 after 490 days on hunger strike. Other political prisoners staged unsuccessful hunger strikes, including activists Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Douma, who are both currently serving sentences related to having protested.