We, the undersigned civil society organizations, lawyers, journalists, and activists, urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Alaa Abdel Fattah, our courageous friend, human rights activist, and blogger.
Alaa has been on a hunger strike for over two weeks to protest his continued illegal detention, prohibition of communication with his family, and the inhumane conditions in Tora prison, which have been described by his family as, “the worst of all of his previous detentions dating back to 2006.”
He was arrested on September 27, 2019, beaten, threatened, and robbed in prison, only six months after serving a five-year prison sentence for organizing a protest in 2013. Alaa was snatched from outside the police station where he had been forced to sleep every night and transferred to National Security Prosecutions where he was subjected to violence and threats. His arrest is part of a full-scale crackdown on those involved in the September 20th anti-Sisi protest, which has led to more than 4,000 people being detained, including prominent activists, journalists, university professors, and lawyers.
While Alaa has not been convicted, he has been kept in detention without a trial and charged with “belonging to an illegal organization” and “spreading false news,” blanket, vague, and broad charges that the Egyptian authorities routinely leverage to persecute activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens in Egypt.
And yet, Alaa is standing against injustice and fighting for the basic rights of more than 60,000 political prisoners held in Egyptian prisons in terrible and decaying conditions without sufficient food, or access to health care. This is taking place during a public health crisis when overcrowded prison cells have become infestation hubs for the coronavirus.
Instead of taking immediate measures to protect the prison population from coronavirus by releasing pretrial detainees and political prisoners, the Egyptian authorities have further isolated and blocked prisoners from the outside world. They have suspended legal proceedings and cancelled visits and communications from families and lawyers.
Alaa’s family has been unable to visit or communicate with him despite consistent requests and hours of waiting outside the Tora maximum-security prison 2, where Alaa has been confined to his cell in remand detention with no access to fresh air, exercise, books, or newspapers. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the Egyptian prison authorities are still refusing to pass on letters, clothes, and other necessary medical and cleaning materials from his family.
On April 28 2020, his family was finally permitted to view the official report documenting Alaa’s hunger strike to the prosecutor, which included information about his health. Alaa officially started a full hunger strike on April 12, protesting the illegal continuation of his detention. In a statement posted by his sister, Mona Seif, Alaa stated in the report:
“The current situation requires my presence with my family, my elderly mother and my son, during these difficult circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, rather than of being held ‘safe’ in prison based on inadequate and fabricated investigations, in a case that everyone knows will not be referred to courts at all.
“I demand regular communication with my family so I can check on them, and with my lawyers to consult with them. I also demand access to official information regarding Corona virus from national newspapers and radio.”
In the words of his aunt, the writer Ahdaf Soueif, Alaa has always fought injustice with his words and body, and “by going on hunger strike now he draws attention to the plight of tens of thousands in Egypt’s prisons.”
Alaa decided, as always, not to be silent. We, now, must do our part.
- DAAM: Democratic Transition & Human Rights Support
- Access Now
- ARTICLE 19
- Association Pour la promotion du droit à la différence (ADD)
- Association Tunisienne De Prévention Positive
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Centre de Tunis pour la Liberté de la Presse
- Citizenship, Development, Cultures, and Immigration Association
- Damj: The Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
- Egyptian Human Rights Forum
- Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux
- Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
- International Service For Human Rights (ISHR)
- Iraqi Network for Social Media – INSM
- L’Association Francophone pour les Droits de l’Homme
- LIGUE TUNISIENNE DES DROITS DE L’HOMME (LTDH)
- MENA Rights Group
- Observatoire National pour la Défense du Caractère Civil de l’Etat
- Pen Iraq
- Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens (SNJT)
- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – ANHRI
- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
- The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
- The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Freedoms
- Tunis Center for Press Freedom
- Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD)
- Tunisian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
- Tunisian Women Association for Research on Development
- Union Tunisienne des Médias Associatifs (UTMA)
- Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
- World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defender
- Association Tunisienne de Défense des Libertés Individuelles
- Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
- International Service For Human Rights (ISHR)
- L’association Perspectives El 3amel Ettounsi
- L’initiative Mawjoudin pour l’égalité
- Tunisian Human Rights League
- Organization 10_23 to support the democratic transition in Tunisia
- Ahmed Ragab, Journalist
- Gamal Eid, ANHRI
- Sergio Bassoli -CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour)
- Hassan Abbas (Co-Editor In Chief at Raseef22)
- Mohamed Omran (Executive Director, DAAM center)
- Ma’an Abu Taleb (Founding Editor Ma3azef.com)
- Mounir Charfi, Observatoire National pour la Défense du Caractère Civil de l’Etat
- Rasha Hilwi (Co-Editor In Chief at Raseef22)