Five political prisoners began a hunger strike Thursday night to mark the eighth anniversary of the January 25 revolution and protest their unjust detention, activists said. They plan to continue the strike until February 11.
Activists called on citizens to acknowledge the strike on social media, calling for the release of the five and of all other political prisoners before it is over. Some activists announced a hunger strike in solidarity with political detainees.
The hunger strikers are Islam Khalil, Galal al-Beheiry, Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, Ahmed Sabry Abu Alam and Abdel Fattah al-Banna.
Khalil was forcibly disappeared on March 10 last year, and appeared before state security prosecution 20 days later. The prosecution added him to case 482/2018 on charges of “joining illegal group that incited for boycotting recent presidential elections.” His detention has been renewed continually since then.
Beheiry, who is a poet, was sentenced to three years in prison last August by a military court, on charges of insulting the military institution in a poetry collection. Beheiry was arrested in March.
Harb, who was arrested on May 6, faces charges of joining an illegal organization and disseminating false news in case 621/2018, which also includes satirical blogger Shady Abu Zeid, blogger Mohamed Ibrahim (Oxygen), activist Amal Fathy and April 6 Youth Movement member Sherif al-Rouby, among others.
Abu Alam, a lawyer, is also detained pending case 621/2018, on charges of joining a terrorist organization with the aim of obstructing the work of state institutions, as well as assaulting citizens’ personal freedoms. His detention has been renewed ever since his arrest during a raid on his home last October.
Banna, a professor of antiquities at Cairo University, was arrested in August amid a campaign known as the Eid Detainees, and is facing charges of “aiding a terrorist organization, receiving funding for terrorist purposes and taking part in a criminal agreement with the intention of committing terrorist crimes” in case 1305/2018.
There are no official figures of the number of pre-trial detainees in Egypt, but the head of the parliamentary human rights committee Alaa Abed has estimated that as of January 2018 there was between 25,000 and 30,000 out of a total of 65,000 prisoners.