Ala Abd El-Fatah. Family of jailed British-Egyptian fear for their lives at COP27
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Sister of imprisoned British Egyptian activist Ala Abd El-Fatah worried for his life, telling a press conference on the sidelines of COP27 that his family “doesn’t know if he’s alive”.
Despite Egypt’s police state making it difficult for critics of the government to speak out freely, Sana Seif, who campaigned in the United Kingdom for her brother’s release, returned to Egypt on Monday to attend a United Nations climate conference in the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh. Sheikh:
His brother, Abd El-Fattah, was a leading activist in the country’s 2011 uprising. He has been imprisoned for much of the past decade, and in 2019 was sentenced to another five years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news after sharing a Facebook post highlighting human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons. On Sunday, he intensified his more than 200-day hunger strike and stopped drinking water.
“Is my brother being force-fed now?” Was she handcuffed to the bed with IVs against her will?’ Saif asked at the press conference
Abd El-Fattah needs consular access or “get him on a plane out of Egypt today or he will die,” Seif said.
“We know they’re happy that he’s dying, the only thing they’re concerned about is that it’s not happening with the world watching, but the world is watching, and he’s not just watching the Egyptian authorities, but also to other governments, including the UK government,” Saif said.
A man who identified himself as an Egyptian lawmaker criticized Seif at the conference, saying his brother had been sentenced as a criminal prisoner, not a political prisoner.
“You are inciting foreign countries to put pressure on Egypt, you are attacking Egypt,” said Amr Darwish, a member of the parliament.
The man was escorted out after Saif was prevented from answering his question.
While the activist’s family continues to speak out about his deteriorating health, warning that he may soon die in prison, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry denied the reports to CNN, saying they may be “false opinions.”
“I think that within the framework of the Criminal Code, the medical conditions of all detainees are constantly reviewed and necessary health care is provided. So I think there may be a misconception about his true status,” Shukri told CNN on Monday.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned that Abd El-Fattah was in “great danger” on Tuesday, calling on the “Egyptian government to immediately release the activist from prison and provide him with the necessary medical care,” Türk said. in the statement.
“His dry hunger strike puts his life in serious danger,” Turk said, adding that he had raised Abd El-Fattah’s case “many times” with Egyptian authorities.
COP27, attended by world leaders, climate activists and business leaders, has come under fire in recent months for Egypt’s human rights record and the jailing of activists. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said before the summit. “No state can claim to be a credible player in addressing the climate crisis while continuing to tighten its grip on civil society.”
Shukri told CNN that Egypt has a “very transparent way of dealing with human rights issues,” adding that Abd El-Fattah had a “fair trial” with “legal representation.”
“The person in question had a fair trial, had legal representation and was convicted by an impartial court, just like any legal system. There has to be respect for the judicial system, which I think is the issue of separation of powers that we all have to adhere to,” he said, without naming Abd El-Fattah directly.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “should be released as soon as possible” and given consular access. When asked if this was possible, Shukri said he had no information to provide on the matter, urging interested parties to refer to court law.
The British government is trying to secure the activist’s release, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office told CNN on Sunday. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also raised the issue of Abd El Fattah during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at COP27, a Downing Street spokesman said.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Saif said he had “asked the British authorities to get us proof that Alaa is alive and well, and I have had no response”.
Saif added that his mother had waited “for 10 hours” at the prison doors yesterday to prove that her son was alive. “He’s back at those gates right now,” he said.
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