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UK: family vigil outside Downing St for Alaa Abd el-Fattah as hunger strike intensifies

Mona Seif holding candlelight vigil as British national begins intensified hunger strike in Egyptian jail 

Letter to Rishi Sunak calls on PM to raise activist’s plight at COP27 

‘The Government will have to act with much more urgency if his life is to be saved’ - Sacha Deshmukh

Amnesty International activists will join a candlelit vigil outside Downing Street on Sunday (4:00-5:00pm) being held by Mona Seif to demonstrate mounting concern for the fate of her brother, the British-Egyptian human rights activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah, whose long-running hunger strike in jail in Egypt is set to intensify this weekend.

Abd el-Fattah, 40, a prominent human rights activist and blogger, has been on hunger strike since 2 April (more than 200 days), and from Sunday - marking the start of the COP27 international climate change summit being held in Egypt - the jailed activist will begin a complete hunger strike, meaning he will refuse even liquids. 

Abd el-Fattah is currently held in Wadi al-Natrun prison north of Cairo after being unfairly convicted - along with human rights lawyer Mohamed Baker - late last year on spurious charges of “spreading false news” in social media posts.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty UK’s Chief Executive, has written to No10 asking Rishi Sunak to raise Abd el-Fattah’s plight during his Egypt trip for the climate change meeting.

Since the middle of last month, Abd el-Fattah’s sister Sanaa Seif has staged a sit-in protest outside the Foreign Office in central London with a request that the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly agree to meet her to discuss her brother’s situation. Earlier this week, the Foreign Secretary spoke with Sanaa and other family members.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: 

“Alaa lies dangerously close to death and the Government will have to act with much more urgency if his life is to be saved.

“My letter to Rishi Sunak made clear how urgent this is, and the PM must raise Alaa’s plight publicly while in Egypt and raise it directly with the Egyptian authorities on the sidelines of COP27.

“We and Alaa’s family want to see the Prime Minister coming back from Egypt with an agreed date for Alaa’s urgent release and a firm commitment that he be allowed to safely leave the country.” 

Years of persecution in Egypt

Alaa Abd el-Fattah is a prominent human rights activist who played an important role in nationwide protests in Egypt in 2011 against former president Hosni Mubarak’s repressive government. In a sustained reprisal for his activism, he has been targeted by the Egyptian authorities for most of the past decade and has suffered a catalogue of human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment soon after being detained in September 2019. He is from a well-known Egyptian family which includes several human rights activists. His mother - Laila Soueif, a mathematics professor at Cairo University - was born in London and the family have significant ties to the UK.

Details of vigil

WHO: Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s sister Mona Seif, Amnesty activists and supporters 

WHAT: vigil at gates of Downing Street, with more than 200 candles (marking the number of days Abd el-Fattah has been on hunger strike), and banners calling for his release 

WHERE: Downing Street, central London 

WHEN: Sunday 6 November 2022, 4:00-5:00pm

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