Advocates: Egyptian blogger Nabil on hunger strike may only have days left

Sarah Raslan , Tuesday 27 Sep 2011

After 35 days on hunger strike, family of Maikel Nabil, a blogger detained since March by SCAF for criticising army rule, fears that he won't make it

Maikel Nabil's father and brother speak out 27 September, 2011 at Hisham Mubarak law centre (Photo by Sarah Raslan)

Months of worry over the fate of his imprisoned son were evident on the face of Nabil Sanad, father of detained Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil. His younger son, Mark, sat next to him as he addressed the crowd of journalists, activists and sympathizers at the Cairo-based Hisham Mubarak Law Centre. 

Dressed in a khaki suite, the elderly man spoke of his older son's ongoing struggle and deteriorating health.

For the past 35 days, his son has been on a hunger strike; he currently weighs only 48 kilograms. 

According to activists from the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, doctors say that human beings cannot survive hunger strikes for more than 40 days.

"I’ve been trying to help Maikel get transferred to a hospital," the blogger’s father said. "It won’t cost the government any money."

"My son could die at any minute," said Sanad. "I urge the authorities to transfer him immediately to a hospital for treatment."

The young blogger was arrested on 28 March after writing a blog post controversially entitled, “The people and the army were never one hand.”

Nabil was accused by the ruling military council (SCAF) of “insulting the army.”

Maikel Nabil was sentenced to three years in prison and an LE200 fine. He is set to appeal the verdict on 4 October.

Over 12,000 civilians have been arrested and subjected to military trials since the revolution started last January.

However, Maikel is the only blogger to have been interned in a military prison since January.

Other bloggers interrogated by the army in recent months on similar charges - including Asmaa Mahfouz and Loai Nagati - have not been arrested or jailed like Maikel, leading to accusations by the Sanad family that Maikel was being singled out.

Since 2005, Maikel Nabil had been a vocal critic of the Mubarak regime.

Shortly after the January 25 revolution, in which he was an active participant, he began to openly criticise certain practices of Egypt’s ruling military council. 

"He used to always write against the Mubarak regime and the interior ministry," Mark recalled of his brother. "How could he be put in jail and secretly tried for criticising the military after the revolution, which was supposedly waged to attain our freedom?”

The blogger’s father, who last saw his son 11 days ago, is permitted to visit his son in prison twice a month. Family members say they are frequently harassed and threatened when visiting the detained activist. 

Mark, the detained blogger's brother, says that military prison officials have threatened to hurt him - and his brother - if he continued to raise awareness about the case. 

"They told me that if I continued to speak to the press they would hurt both Maikel and me," he said. 

He went on to claim that the military had threatened to accuse his brother of 'drug possession' if he did not end his hunger strike.

"We don’t want another Khaled Said," Mark said, in reference to the young man beaten to death by police last year and falsely accused of possessing drugs. 

Maikel's family is calling on activists and sympathisers to join them in a demonstration outside the courtroom on the morning of their son’s trial.

"Remember the demands of the revolution: Bread, freedom and human rights,” said Mark. “Maikel should have the freedom to write whatever he wants."

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