Rights lawyer Khaled Ali during a march in Cairo, Egypt, May 2013 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Egypt's rights lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali has joined an ongoing hunger strike by dozens of Egyptians to demand the release of those said to be unfairly detained by authorities in an attempt to curtail political dissent.
Ali, whose Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights brought a case demanding that a controversial protest law under which dozens of youth activists have been detained be rescinded, said he would be hunger striking for two days in solidarity with those held in jails.
"I … announce giving away food, drink and water for 48 hours, starting now, in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners," Ali said via Twitter late Wednesday.
Over 80 people in Egyptian jails are on hunger strike to protest their detention and the widely-criticised protest law. The statute, issued late last year, bans protest without prior police authorisation and gives security forces the right to bar any public gathering of more than 10 people.
Some 200 others outside prisons, including families of the detainees, activists and journalists, have organised a hunger strike in solidarity.
Among the hunger-striking prisoners are Ahmed Douma, a well-known youth activist associated with the 2011 revolution, who activists and lawyers say is at risk after 21 days without food. Two supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Mohamed Soltan — on strike for over 230 days — and Ibrahim El-Yamani, striking for over five months, are also said to be in critical health.
One of Egypt's most prominent activists, Alaa Abdel Fattah, was released on bail Monday after almost a month on hunger strike ahead of his retrial on charges of breaching the protest law.