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Mona Seif (Egypt) - 9 January 2023 Meeting Highlights - Sutton Amnesty

Sutton Amnesty International January 2023 Meeting with Mona Seif

In our first meeting of 2023 we had the privilege to hear Mona Seif, sister of the Group's adopted prisoner of conscience Alaa Abdel Fattah, speaking about her campaign and the state of human rights in Egypt. The zoom meeting was well-attended, with 42 members from 15 Amnesty groups participating.

Alaa is an Egyptian writer, technologist and political activist. He has been prosecuted or arrested by every Egyptian regime to rule in his lifetime and has been held in prison for all but a few months since the coup d’état of 2013. Alaa is arguably the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt, if not the Arab world, rising to international prominence during the revolution of 2011.

The talk by Mona was both informative and motivating, prompting a lively discussion which resulted in a clear idea of how to proceed as a group.

By way of background, Mona moved to London to focus on her campaign following Alaa’s arrest. Interestingly, her parents were also activists over the years; her father was a human rights lawyer who spent 5 years in prison in the 1980s, and her mother was an active supporter of academic freedoms and a vocal critic of the use of torture.

Alaa is currently imprisoned for “spreading false rumours”, following a sham trial with no legal representation as lawyers were not permitted access to any files. Mona confirmed that Alaa is considered by the Egyptian authorities to be a person of social and political influence and his imprisonment is seen by them as a necessary deterrent for others. He is an unwelcome symbol of the 25th January 2011 uprising in their eyes. It appears that his case is different from others as his family’s file is monitored by the President’s team.

According to Mona, the current situation and regime in Egypt raise many concerns regarding the systematic use of torture, routine imprisonment following trials with no legal representation, the total control of citizens through military means in all facets of life, mass arrests and political persecution. It is estimated that there are currently more than 60,000 political prisoners, plus 11 new prisons located in huge complexes in remote areas. There is active and widespread state prosecution of individuals who are believed to spread false rumours or who are aiding, belong or are affiliated to, a terrorist group. More recently, the military regime has sought to take over successful industries, seize key assets, suppress doctors and nurses who spoke out during the pandemic and arrest people they consider digital influencers and creators who act against the regime and its interpretations of traditional family values. Effectively there is no rule of law.

The discussion turned to how we could help as a group. Mona advised that the UK government’s failure to support Alaa and investigate his case was extremely disappointing, but, sadly, not surprising as the main priority appears to be securing large trade and investment deals.

It was agreed that the focus of our group activities going forward should be:

  • Keep Alaa’s case in the public eye, especially on social media, which can be a powerful tool
  • Continue to pressurise the UK government to take up the case and link it to further economic deals with Egypt
  • Build on the fact that there was some embarrassment for the Egyptian regime at Cop 27 so keep up the pressure
  • Try to encourage governments to work together who have their citizens imprisoned in Egypt
  • Keep lobbying the Egyptian ambassador in London
  • Attend any vigils for Alaa outside the FCDO or the Egyptian Embassy
  • Seek meetings with our local MPs, asking them to urge the UK government to take up Alaa’s case

On a personal level, it is extremely important to Alaa that he knows that there is a sustained campaign, not solely for his benefit but for all prisoners detained illegally.

Some further background to the case can be found at and, and on our webpage here.

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