The UN called on Egypt for the “immediate” release of prominent activist Alaa Abdelfatah

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“He stopped drinking water 50 hours ago and we don't know if he's still alive,” said his sister. The Egyptian leader has launched a broad campaign of repression and persecution against opponents, both liberal groups and Islamist organizations

The UN called on Egypt for the “immediate” release of prominent activist Alaa Abdelfatah

Alaa Abdelfatah

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, demanded on Tuesday the “immediate” release of the prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfatá, after he announced that he is refusing to drink water as part of a hunger strike that he has been holding for more than 200 days to protest against his imprisonment in the African country.

< b>“I ask the Egyptian government to immediately release Abdelfatá from prison and to give him the necessary medical treatment,” said Turk, who warned that the activist “is in serious danger”. “This dry hunger strike puts his life at serious risk,” he said, before adding that the matter of this activist and other “individuals arbitrarily deprived of liberty” has been addressed “on multiple occasions” with the authorities of El Cairo.

He stopped drinking water 50 hours ago and we don't know if he's still alive,” said the activist's sister, Sanaa Seif, adding that the Their mother went to prison yesterday to hear from her son, but the Egyptian authorities refused to see him or communicate with him in writing.

The UN called on Egypt for the “immediate” release of prominent activist Alaa Abdelfatah

Sanaa Seif, the activist's sister (Reuters)

The fragile situation of Alaa is being one of the central themes of this COP27, which is being held in Egypt, since the activist -on a partial hunger strike since April 2 and a total hunger strike since November 1- stopped drinking water on November 6, coinciding with the opening of the climate conference.

Turk called on Egypt to “comply with its Human Rights obligations and immediately release all those arbitrarily detained, including those in detention awaiting trial, as well as those wrongly convicted.” “No one should be detained for exercising their basic rights or defending those of others,” Turk explained.

On the other hand, he has called on the Egyptian authorities to review all laws that limit freedom of expression, assembly and association and has warned against possible reprisals against people who support activists, in particular Abdelfatá's relatives, while he has done emphasize that it is the responsibility of the Government to protect the rights and security of the population.

The UN called on Egypt for the “immediate” release of prominent activist Alaa Abdelfatah

Alaa Abdelfatah with his wife in a file photo (Reuters)

Abdelfatá, an important Egyptian blogger and one of the main figures of the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak in 2011 in the framework of the 'Arab Spring', has been in prison for nine years and in 2021 he was sentenced to another five-year prison sentence for “ dissemination of false news”, charges that various NGOs have branded as false.

The current Egyptian president, Abdelfatá al Sisi, came to power through a coup in July 2013 that led after a series of massive demonstrations against the then president, the Islamist Mohamed Mursi, the first democratically elected president in the country and who died in 2019 during a court hearing against him after his arrest after the coup.

The leader has launched a wide campaign of repression and persecution against opponents, from both liberal groups and Islamist organizations –declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization rista–, an initiative that Human Rights groups have denounced as the most serious in recent times.

(with information from EP)

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