Egypt: Alaa Abd el-Fattah Escalates Hunger Strike

Prominent jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah has begun a full hunger strike, telling his family in a letter that he would start a zero-calorie strike on Tuesday and then would stop drinking water on Nov. 6 —the day the COP27 climate summit begins in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt: Alaa Abd el-Fattah Escalates Hunger Strike
Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Prominent jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah has begun a full hunger strike, telling his family in a letter that he would start a zero-calorie strike on Tuesday and then would stop drinking water on Nov. 6 —the day the COP27 climate summit begins in Sharm el-Sheikh.
  • Abd el-Fattah was a prominent dissident in the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that led to the ousting of former Pres. Hosni Mubarak. Under the rule of Pres. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who rose to power in 2014, Abd el-Fattah has spent most of his time detained and is currently serving a five-year sentence for "broadcasting false news."
  • Because Abd el-Fattah's mother was born in London, he was able to gain British citizenship last year, prompting intensified calls for supporters to press the UK government to intervene.
  • 64 British MPs and peers wrote to foreign secretary James Cleverly, warning that Abd el-Fattah's life is at "serious risk," as he has consumed only 100 daily calories for more than 200 days. His sister, Sanaa Seif, has said that she is terrified about his well-being.
  • 15 Nobel Literature Laureates have also urged politicians attending the summit to pressure Cairo to free political dissidents, demanding them to use this opportunity "to help those most vulnerable, not just to the rising seas, but those imprisoned and forgotten" in Egypt.
  • At least 60K political prisoners are estimated to have been jailed since Pres. el-Sisi overthrew the democratically-elected Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Last week, Egyptian authorities arrested at least 65 people who called for demonstrations on Nov. 11 during COP27.

Sources: BBC News, Intercept, Common Dreams, middleeasteye, Guardian, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Guardian. Leaders attending the COP27 summit have the power to free Abd el-Fattah and should use their visit to Egypt to do so. If those who claim to be fighting for change don't do something this time around, not only could Fattah die but so too could countless activists and others who face persecution.
  • Narrative B, as provided by DW. The West has already been ramping up multi-faceted pressure on Egypt, with international human rights watchdogs urging the country to stop its repression of civil society and the US deciding to withhold millions in foreign military aid over Egypt's failure to fulfil human rights conditions. Former MP Ziyad el-Elaimy has already been pardoned and Fattah must also be released soon.