Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abdel Fattah has been on a hunger strike for seven months, and since last Sunday he stopped drinking water.
As Egypt is hosting the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, called on the Egyptian authorities to “immediately release the blogger and political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has British citizenship, and has been on hunger strike, which poses a serious threat to his life.”
“Turk deeply regrets that the authorities have not yet released the most famous political prisoner in Egypt,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that this prompted the High Commissioner to speak personally with the Egyptian authorities last Friday, to release him.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that they raised the issue of the political prisoner on hunger strike, Alaa Abdel Fattah, during their meeting, on Monday, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, on the sidelines of the climate conference held in Sharm El-Sheikh.
After arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, Sana Seif, Abdel Fattah’s sister, said that “Alaa’s death in prison would not benefit anyone. It is a matter of hours or days. I am really worried.”
She added, in press statements, that she came to the summit “to remind both the Egyptian and British government of her detained brother.”
Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of the most prominent activists of the January 2011 revolution, was arrested in 2013 and sentenced in 2014 for five years in prison, after being convicted of “gathering and participating in illegal protest.”
In late 2019, Alaa was re-arrested, months after his release from the first case. In December 2021, he was sentenced to another five years in prison on charges of “joining a terrorist group and spreading false news”, charges that the Egyptian regime has traditionally directed against its critics to justify their arrest and prosecution.