Saturday, February 4, 2023

‘Blood on your hands’: Sister of Briton on hunger strike in Egypt begs Rishi Sunak to act

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The sister of a British citizen who will start a water strike in an Egyptian jail this weekend has warned Rishi Sunak and world leaders they will have “blood on their hands” if they do not intervene to free him during Cop27.

Mr Sunak has announced he will participate in the United Nations climate conference, which will take place in Egypt’s Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, in his first diplomatic visit as premier.

Sanaa Seif called on Mr Sunak to work to free her brother Alaa Abdel-Fattah, saying no action “will be interpreted as a green light to kill [Alaa]” right as he is on his first major trip abroad.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah was jailed for five years in Egypt ” data-gallery-length=”5″ height=”2784″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” on=”tap:inline-image-gallery,inline-image-carousel.goToSlide(index=1)” role=”button” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/11/02/07/SEI131800012.jpeg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp” tabindex=”0″ width=”4175″>

Alaa Abdel-Fattah was jailed for five years in Egypt

(AP)

The unlawful jailing of Mr Abdel-Fattah, a writer and an activist, has sparked uproar around the world.

Prominent figures, including Greta Thunberg, 15 Nobel Laureates such as this year’s Nobel Prize Literature winner Annie Ernaux and celebrities including Emma Thompson, have all called for his freedom.

“I will be going to attend the UN climate conference COP27 myself, as Alaa escalates his hunger strike, as he stops taking water, as world leaders head to Egypt to attend COP27,” Ms Seif said after ending a two-week sit-in outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London.

“I want to tell these officials that if you don’t save him, you will have blood on your hands.

“I want to call on Rishi Sunak to intervene. You’re going there, you’re going to meet with [Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah] Sisi, you’re going to be in the same country as a British citizen who is dying, and if you don’t show that you care, then that will be interpreted as a green light to kill him. My brother can be saved.”

Sanaa Seif, sister of Egypt’s leading pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, left, with Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP outside the Foreign Office in London” data-gallery-length=”5″ height=”5685″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” on=”tap:inline-image-gallery,inline-image-carousel.goToSlide(index=2)” role=”button” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/11/02/12/Britain_Egypt_Activist_73199.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp” tabindex=”0″ width=”8528″>

Sanaa Seif, sister of Egypt’s leading pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, left, with Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP outside the Foreign Office in London

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Abdel-Fattah’s family said he started a full hunger strike on Tuesday and plans to start denying himself water as of 6 November, the first day of the international climate conference.

His family has expressed fears that without water he will die before the conference concludes on 18 November.

Mr Abdel-Fattah is an outspoken dissident and a British citizen who rose to prominence with the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak.

The 40-year-old activist spent most of the past decade behind bars and his detention has become a symbol of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule.

Ms Seif fears her brother will not survive his food and water strike ” data-gallery-length=”5″ height=”5680″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” on=”tap:inline-image-gallery,inline-image-carousel.goToSlide(index=3)” role=”button” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/11/02/07/SEI131832482.jpeg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp” tabindex=”0″ width=”8520″>

Ms Seif fears her brother will not survive his food and water strike

(AP)

President Sisi, the country’s former army chief, stormed to power in 2014 after overseeing the military overthrow of his democratically elected predecessor – Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed Morsi.

Since then, rights groups including Human Rights Watch have said hundreds of anti-government protesters have been killed and tens of thousands jailed in a sweeping crackdown on freedom.

Mr Abdel-Fattah, who has a seven-year old son he has been unable to see for a year, is currently serving his latest five-year sentence – which the peers and MPs labelled “unlawful” in a letter sent to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly this week.

Rishi Sunak U-turned on his decision not to attend Cop27 so will be in Egypt next week ” data-gallery-length=”5″ height=”1806″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” on=”tap:inline-image-gallery,inline-image-carousel.goToSlide(index=4)” role=”button” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/11/02/20/newFile-1.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp” tabindex=”0″ width=”2408″>

Rishi Sunak U-turned on his decision not to attend Cop27 so will be in Egypt next week

(Getty Images)

Mr Abdel-Fattah was convicted on charges of spreading false news after he shared social media posts that were critical of terrible prison conditions under the military-backed regime.

Ms Seif, with her sister Mona, met the foreign secretary on Wednesday after weeks of staging a sit-in outside the FCDO office.

After the meeting, James Cleverly said: “We will continue to work tirelessly for his release.”

The Foreign Office has so far declined to reveal what exact steps they are taking.

In frustration and concerned for the wellbeing of her brother, Ms Seif said she will attend Cop27.

“I will be there as a reminder to everyone who is complicit in killing my brother and the injustice against my family,” she said.

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