Doctor warns Irish-Egyptian prisoner Ibrahim Halawa faces serious health complications from hunger strike

An Irish doctor who was sent to Egypt to medically assess political prisoner Ibrahim Halawa issued a warning that the health of the Irish-Egyptian prisoner is deteriorating, and recommended he be released to undergo further medical tests.

The 21-year-old has been jailed in Egypt for almost four years, pending trial, which has been postponed 20 times.

The Irish doctor visited him on March 28, along with the Irish ambassador to Cairo and an embassy staff member.

Halawa’s older sister Somaia, who spoke to Mada Masr from Dublin after speaking to the doctor, said, “Ibrahim has lost a lot of weight due to this hunger strike. Even though he is drinking water and fluids, he suffers from dehydration, diarrhoea and is also vomiting.”

On April 4, Halawa had been on hunger strike for 70 days, the fourth hunger strike he has embarked on since being jailed in August 2013.

“Ibrahim does not have access to a proper hospital and is being denied access to basic medical care in detention”

“Ibrahim has a heart problem, respiratory problem, nervous problem, and he was shot with a live bullet in his hand, which needed operating on and is causing him pain because this didn’t happen, Somaia explained.

Egyptian governmental officials have denied Halawa was shot.

He has experienced problems with low blood sugar, resulting in his transfer to Wadi Natroun Prison Hospital, Somaia said, adding that this is more of a clinic than a hospital. He also needs to use an inhaler for his respiratory condition, which he isn’t doing, she said.

“Ibrahim does not have access to a proper hospital and is being denied access to basic medical care in detention. He has a very elevated heartbeat and high body temperature. He is also suffering from a strange skin condition, with spots appearing on his skin,” Somaia explained.

Halawa has been subjected to physical and psychological abuse in prison, according to his sister, which has included threats of being detained with inmates that have contagious diseases.

“Ibrahim is in critical condition. He requires a wheelchair or assistance to move around, and has lost consciousness repeatedly during this hunger strike, most recently on Thursday, Somaia said.

Despite news of his impending release and deportation, the family say they have heard nothing about this.

Halawa signed papers waiving his Egyptian citizenship, which he wasn’t forced to do, but did as a result of the situation in hope of release, his sister explained.

Halawa and his three sisters — Somaia, Fatima and Omaima — were arrested in Cairo on August 17, 2013, and charged with participating in a violent protest at Al-Fath Mosque in downtown Cairo’s Ramses Square, where several demonstrations took place following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The three sisters were released shortly after, but Halawa was kept in custody.

He faces charges, along with 493 other defendants (including 11 minors) of taking part in an unlawful assembly, destroying public property, assaulting security forces and committing murder. The charges against him may carry the death penalty.

Halawa’s lawyer and his family have denied the accusations against him, refuting claims that he has been associated with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization, which the state officially classified as a terrorist organization on December 25, 2013.

The Halawa sisters have been the driving force behind the Facebook group “Free Ibrahim Halawa,” and in recent months international rights groups Amnesty International and Reprieve have called for Halawa’s release, along with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the European Parliament and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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