Despite Alaa Abdel-Fattah's release, Egypt's hunger strike continues

Passant Darwish , Monday 15 Sep 2014

Political parties and movements in Egypt continue their hunger strikes against the protest law even after the release of renowned activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

hunger strike
Journalists' hunger strike in Press Syndicate (Photo: Hend Nafea)

A hunger strike campaign opposing Egypt's protest law is still going strong despite a court's decision Monday to release activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and two others after they were imprisoned on charges of its violation.

Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (Noubi) and Wael Metwally were appealing 15-year sentences for breaking a controversial protest law in November 2013.

Although the trio has been released, the protest law – one of many cases in which defendants are being tried under – was passed last November by interim authorities.

Meanwhile, journalists who started a temporary two-day hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees ended their strike on Monday at 14:00 CLT.

The journalists, in a statement, said anti-protest law hunger strikers "are starting to gain the first fruits of their heroic struggle" by the trio’s release and the court’s decision to step down.

The journalists scheduled a general meeting on Thursday to decide on further steps to repeal the protest law.

The statement reaffirmed the journalists' "full solidarity with everyone on hunger strike in and outside of prisons."

Meanwhile, April 6 Youth Movement welcomed the decision to release Abdel-Fattah, Noubi and Metwally.

The movement, in a statement, said the conditions of thousands of detainees, locked up for opposing the regime, should be reconsidered.

The statement also said the hunger strike campaign is still ongoing, with a large number of the group's members still on hunger strike.

In a very short statement to media reporters waiting for him outside Tora prison Monday afternoon, Alaa Abdel-Fattah said that the hunger strike campaign would continue until the release of all detainees imprisoned because of the protest law. 

Alaa Abdel-Fattah's sister, Mona Seif, who is a renowned activist and founder of the “No to military trials for civilians” campaign also stated on her official Twitter account earlier Monday that she would continue her hunger strike till the release of her sister Sanaa who was still detained pending a trial for breaking the protest law. 

Many political parties have opened their doors to hunger strikers to provide basic services such as medical care as well as document striker’s efforts.

Ahmed El-Shahed, the leading member of the Constitution Party told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website on Monday that the party's doors were still open to its members currently on hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees demanding the amendment of the protests.

"The partial hunger strike announced by the party along with other parties and movements is still on in Alexandria, Sharkia, Aswan and the Constitution Party's headquarters in Cairo," El-Shahed said adding that the strike was not about a specific person but about the protest law itself.

"We demand the amendment of the protest law and to release all the detainees arrested because of it, many members from the Constitution Party are currently being detained because of this law," El-Shahed said.

El-Shahed told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that he believed that what happened in Alaa Abdel-Fattah's case was an attempt to tame the wave of hunger strikers in solidarity with the detainees but what they really want is an amendment to the protest law.

Last Saturday several liberal and leftist political parties including the Constitution Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Strong Party declared they had joined the hunger strike campaign to release detainees imprisoned because of the protest law while also demanding its amendment. 

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