Egypt: Hunger Striking Activist ‘Alive’, Family Says

Alaa Abdel-Fattah is still alive eight days after refusing to drink water in protest at his imprisonment. The activist’s sister confirmed the receipt of a letter from him in his handwriting.

The sister of prominent imprisoned Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah said on Monday that she had seen evidence that her brother is still alive following several days without contact during which the activist had been refusing to drink water.

Abdel-Fattah went on a hunger strike in April to protest his imprisonment, but escalated the strike to refusing to even consume liquids as world leaders arrived in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit.

What is Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s current condition?

Sanaa Souief, Abdel-Fattah’s sister, said that she had seen a letter dated Saturday that she confirmed was from him, having recognized the handwriting.

The letter said that he had resumed drinking water. His family and rights organizations had warned that his deteriorating health meant he might die within days.

Abdel-Fattah is allowed to communicate with his family via letter once per week. Monday’s letter is the first the family have received since he began to refuse water eight days ago.

Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Thursday last week that authorities had begun a medical intervention and that the hunger-striking activist was in good health.

Egypt’s human rights record under scrutiny

Abdel-Fattah is considered a political prisoner by many rights groups. He played a prominent role in the Arab Spring protests that overthrew the regime of ex-President Hosni Mubarak. In 2019 Egyptian authorities sentenced the 40-year-old to five years in prison for “spreading false news.”

The activist launched a partial hunger strike 220 days ago, consuming no more than 100 calories per day, to bring attention to his treatment in prison. His escalation was timed to begin with the COP27 summit when the world’s gaze would be focused on Egypt.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have slammed the decision to allow Egypt to host world leaders and thus whitewash its human rights abuses.

UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly said on Monday that his ministry was working to secure consular access to Abdel-Fattah who acquired British citizenship earlier this year.

(AP, Reuters)