Alaa Abd el-Fattah: Detained British-Egyptian activist escalates hunger strike days before COP27

Abd el-Fattah wrote a letter to his family on Monday saying that he would start a “full hunger strike” on Tuesday November 1.
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A British-Egyptian prisoner on a partial hunger strike in Egypt has stopped consuming calories and plans to stop drinking water on the first day of COP27 next week, his family said.

Alaa Abd el-Fattah, 40, a prominent human rights activist and blogger, has spent the last eight behind bars in Cairo’s notorious Tora Maximum Security Two prison.

His family, who are based between London and Cairo, have been campaigning for his release ever since.

Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel FattahEgyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah
Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah

Abd el-Fattah wrote a letter to his family on Monday saying that he would start a “full hunger strike” on Tuesday November 1.

For months, Abdel-Fattah has been on a partial hunger strike, consuming only 100 calories a day and his family is concerned for his health.

He wrote that on November 6 the first day of COP27, he will also give up water.

His family fears that if he isn’t released during the climate conference he will die in prison without water.

Abd el-Fattah rose to prominence in Egypt during nationwide protests in 2011 against Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian government and has been targeted by the authorities for most of the past decade

Among other things, the activist suffered torture soon after his detention in 2019.

According to Human Rights Watch, tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists, environmental groups, and human rights defenders, are imprisoned in Egypt on "terrorism" charges.

Mona Seif (left), Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy (middle), Sanaa Seif (right). Credit: Free AlaaMona Seif (left), Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy (middle), Sanaa Seif (right). Credit: Free Alaa
Mona Seif (left), Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy (middle), Sanaa Seif (right). Credit: Free Alaa

His sister Sanaa previously told LondonWorld: “Alaa is really desperate, he feels like he will die in prison.

“Every time he finishes a sentence they just put him on a new case.

“Alaa is fighting this to the end, he is putting his body on the line to get consular access.

“Egypt and Britain have a really strong relationship, there should be more done.

“The French have managed to get their citizens back from Egyptian prisons, the US did it also.

“I know that Britain is capable of doing that if there is enough political will.”

Sanaa has received a number of high profile visitors during her sit-in outside the Foreign Office, including shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and prominent climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish activist has said she will not attend the climate conference in Egypt condemning human rights abuses in the country.

Greta Thunberg with sisters Mona and Sanaa SeifGreta Thunberg with sisters Mona and Sanaa Seif
Greta Thunberg with sisters Mona and Sanaa Seif

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “The government is working hard to secure Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s release, and we continue to raise his case at the highest levels of the Egyptian government.

“The foreign secretary most recently raised his case when he met Egyptian foreign minister Shoukry at the UN general assembly last month.”

To support Alaa Abdel Fattah’s campaign you can write to your local MP or sign this petition.