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Family: Egypt activist ‘deteriorated’ since starvation strike

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CAIRO — The household of imprisoned Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah mentioned they have been allowed into the jail and noticed him on Thursday and that his situation has “deteriorated severely” following a dramatic starvation strike.

The information was posted in a tweet by his sister Mona Seif after a go to to the jail of Wadi el-Natroun, north of Cairo, by the activist’s mom, aunt and his different sister. It was their first time seeing him in almost a month.

“News from the visit are unsettling,” Mona tweeted, including that her brother had “deteriorated severely in the past 2 weeks.” She didn’t elaborate extra on his well being however mentioned the household would share extra info later within the day.

Abdel-Fattah is considered one of Egypt’s most outstanding pro-democracy campaigners. He had intensified a starvation strike and halted all energy and water at first earlier in November of the U.N. local weather convention underway in Egypt’s Crimson Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, to attract consideration to his case and people of different political prisoners.

Considerations for his well being intensified because the household was barred from seeing him. Final Thursday, jail authorities started an unspecified medical intervention on Abdel-Fattah — prompting ideas that he was being force-fed.

Then earlier this week, Abdel-Fattah knowledgeable his household in handwritten notes that he first began consuming water once more after which additionally ended the starvation strike.

Abdel-Fattah’s mom, Laila Soueif, obtained two quick letters in her son’s handwriting, on Monday and Tuesday, via jail authorities. The primary letter, confirming Abdel-Fattah had began consuming water once more, was dated on Saturday, whereas the second letter, confirming he had ended his starvation strike was dated Monday.

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‘‘I’ve damaged my strike. I’ll clarify the whole lot on Thursday,’’ the second letter learn. The circumstances beneath which he wrote the letter weren’t clear. The activist had beforehand mentioned he was prepared to die in his strike if not freed.

The household has not seen Abdel-Fattah for the reason that final pre-allotted go to on Oct. 24 and had not been given info on his situation. Within the notice, Abdel-Fattah asks his mom to deliver a cake to have a good time his upcoming birthday. The conferences, carried out behind a glass barrier, often final for round 20 minutes.

Abdel-Fattah, who turns 41 on Friday, has spent many of the previous decade in jail due to his criticism of Egypt’s rulers. Final 12 months, he was sentenced to 5 years for sharing a Fb publish a few prisoner who died in custody in 2019.

His starvation strike drew consideration on Egypt’s heavy suppression of speech and political exercise, throughout the Arab nation internet hosting of the U.N. local weather summit, often called COP27. Since 2013, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s authorities has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing 1000’s, nearly banning protests and monitoring social media.

In the course of the two-week local weather convention, U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz all raised the activist’s case of their personal talks with el-Sissi. Abdel-Fattah gained British citizenship earlier this 12 months via his mom, who was born in London. The household have incessantly criticized the British authorities for not doing sufficient to safe his launch.

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However the ending of the starvation strike, which was a shock to his household, additionally raised questions over whether or not Abdel-Fattah had been informed one thing by authorities.

“I have no idea why he took this step, has he been promised something, what has been told to him, what has been hidden from him, I have no idea,” Soueif mentioned earlier.

Egypt’s overseas minister has tried to speak down the eye on Abdel-Fattah. In an interview with The Related Press on Saturday on the sidelines of COP27, Sameh Shoukry mentioned the precedence of the summit must be centered on ‘‘the existential challenge related to climate change’’ not the activist’s wellbeing.

Abdel-Fattah rose to fame throughout the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept via the Center East, toppling Egypt’s long-time autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. He has been imprisoned a number of instances, and has spent a complete of 9 years behind bars, changing into a logo of Egypt’s sliding again to an much more autocratic rule beneath el-Sissi.

On Tuesday, Tarik el-Awady, a member of Egypt’s presidential pardon committee, introduced the discharge of the 30 pre-trial detainees earlier than posting photos of a number of of the freed inmates on his Fb account. El-Awady didn’t disclose the identification of any of the detainees.

In current months, the Egyptian authorities has sought to enhance its worldwide picture via mass prisoner releases through presidential pardons and its institution of a brand new “strategy” to improve the nation’s human rights situations.

Various human rights teams have forged doubt on these measures and accused Egypt of utilizing the gathering in Sharm el-Sheikh to additional whitewash its poor rights file. Egypt is among the many world’s worst jailers of journalists, together with Turkey and China, in accordance with 2021 information produced by the U.S.-based Committee to Defend Journalists. Human Rights Watch estimated in 2019 that as many as 60,000 political prisoners are incarcerated in Egyptian prisons, many with out trial.

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Abdel-Fattah’s different sister, Sanaa Seif, took half in a protest march in Sharm el Sheikh that noticed a whole bunch of activists demand motion on local weather change, human and gender rights. The protesters additionally referred to as for the discharge of Abdel-Fattah and all political prisoners detained in Egypt. Sanaa, who has been imprisoned in Egypt earlier than and now lives in London, flew to the convention to lift consciousness about her brother’s case.

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