Families, friends of Egypt's political prisoners begin hunger strike

Passant Darwish , Sunday 7 Sep 2014

Those outside of prison will join 66 political detainees in a hunger strike that protests "an authority constantly oppressing the youth"

A family member of a detained activist on hunger strike (L), Political Activist Zizo Abdo (C),novelist Laila Soueif (R) (Photo: Hend Nafea)

Families and friends of detained and imprisoned activists said on Sunday that they will gradually begin a hunger strike in solidarity with detainees.

In a press conference in downtown Cairo, political activist Zizo Abdo said the gradual hunger strike will take place inside prisons and detentions as well as outside of them by their supporters.

According to Abdo, 66 political detainees and prisoners have already entered a hunger strike in response to "an authority constantly oppressing the youth."

One of the newer tools for the state's oppression, according to Abdo, is prolonging detention periods without setting a date for trial.

Speaking at the presser was Mohamed Gamal Zeyada, brother of detained Ahmed Gamal Zeyada who was arrested on 28 December 2013 and has been on hunger strike for the past 13 days.

His brother said he was tortured several times in detention.

Ahmed, a journalist, was arrested while covering a protest in Al-Azhar University. "I'm wondering if it's a crime to be a journalist," his brother said.

Meanwhile, Sarah Mohamed, a relative of Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for 224 days, said Soltan's condition and spirits are deteriorating.

However, she added that Soltan's spirits were lifted when he heard that people outside prisons and detentions were also striking in solidarity.

Mohamed said interior ministry officials told Soltan that his case has been forgotten and that he should either end his hunger strike or stop drinking water altogether and die.

Soltan, according to Mohamed, smiled back to the officials knowing that they are trying to terrify him. Soltan was arrested from his house following the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in last August; he is the son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Salah Sultan.

Also speaking in the conference was Laila Soueif, mother of detained Sanaa Seif and imprisoned Alaa Abdel-Fattah,  highlighting the prison conditions of detainees describing them as unsuitable for humans.

She added that she has been on hunger strike since last Thursday to protest the months-long detention of political detainees, with some behind bars without a date set for their trial.


Sweif together with her daughter Mona Seif had officially notified the prosecution the beginning of their hunger strike last Thursday "until the release of Alaa and Sanaa as well as their fellow detainees and in objection to the protest law".


Alaa and Sanaa are among hundreds that have been charged under a new controversial protest law passed last November. The protest law bans all demonstrations that have not obtained a permit from the police in advance.  

Meanwhile, Spokesman for the liberal Constitution Party Khaled Dawoud criticized the prolonged detainment of party member Mohamed Abdel-Wahed, who was arrested on 12 January 2014 and still does not have a trial date.

Dawoud said that youth shouldn't be locked up in detention, calling for their release and saying that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has had many chances to reduce the ongoing tension by releasing the detainees.

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