UN rights chief Volker Turk has called on Egypt to immediately release hunger striker and grassroots activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah.
Imprisoned hunger striker Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s life is in grave danger, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, renewing a call for Egypt to release him immediately .
“I urge the Egyptian government to immediately release Abd el-Fattah from prison and provide him with the necessary medical care,” Turk said in a statement on Tuesday, warning that the activist “is in grave danger.”
“His dry hunger strike puts his life in danger.”
Abd el-Fattah, a prominent activist and blogger who has dual British and Egyptian nationality, was jailed in 2014 for five years for participating in an unauthorized rally. He was arrested again in 2019, and in December 2021 was sentenced to an additional five years for spreading false news.
The 40 year old man has been on a hunger-strike for 220 days against his detention and his conditions of detention.
Abd el-Fattah informed his family that he would stop drinking water on Sunday in an escalation of his protest. His mother said she did not receive a letter she usually receives from him when she visits on Monday.
Without water, Abd el-Fattah’s health could quickly deteriorate. The escalation of his protest coincided with the COP27 climate summitthe UN’s annual gathering of world leaders to discuss global warming, held this year in Egypt.
Ravina Shamdasani, Turk’s spokeswoman, said the official spoke personally with Egyptian authorities to demand Abd el-Fattah’s release, most recently on Friday.
When asked if there was a risk that he was already dead, given the lack of communication, Shamdasani told a press briefing in Geneva: “We are very concerned for his health and he there is a lack of transparency, as well as about its current state”.
Turk noted that the April resumption of the Egyptian Presidential Pardon Commission “resulted in the release of many people”.
But he called on “the Egyptian authorities to fulfill their human rights obligations and immediately release all those arbitrarily detained, including those in pretrial detention, as well as those unjustly convicted”.
“No one should be detained for exercising their basic human rights or for defending those of others,” he said.
prisoners of conscience
Abd el-Fattah’s detention has become a major issue at the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, attended by his sister Sanaa Seif, herself a former political prisoner. campaign for his release.
COP27 activists also posted prolifically on Twitter under the hashtag #FreeAlaa, and several speakers ended their speeches with the words “you haven’t been defeated yet” – the title of his book.
Rights groups say Abd el-Fattah is among more than 60,000 prisoners of conscience in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power, overthrowing former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 .
Asked about the case, Egyptian Foreign Minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry told CNBC that prison authorities would provide health care to Abd el-Fattah. Egyptian officials previously said he was receiving meals.
On Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron both met directly with Egyptian President el-Sisi and increased pressure for his release, hours after three Egyptian journalists said they had started their own strike action. hungry about his fate.