Alaa Abd El-Fattah: Activist to end hunger strike says letter to sister


Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s sister said on Tuesday she had received a letter saying the imprisoned British-Egyptian activist had ended his hunger strike after more than 200 days.

“The most important thing is I want to celebrate my birthday with you on Thursday. I haven’t celebrated it for a long time and I want to celebrate with my cell mates, so bring a cake, normal provisions. I broke my strike,” one part reads of the letter, purportedly from Abd El-Fattah and addressed to his mother, which was posted on Sanaa Seif’s Twitter account.

“We have just received this letter. Alaa has broken his hunger strike. I don’t know what’s going on inside, but our family visit is scheduled for Thursday and he says to bring a cake to celebrate his birthday. #FreeAlaa,” Seif wrote, along with a photo of the letter.

Earlier this month, Abd El-Fattah escalated a hunger strike lasting more than 200 days and stopped drinking water as world leaders began to gather in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit.

The plight of the Arab Spring activist has cast a shadow over the event and led to renewed calls for his release, including from Amnesty International. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also raised the case of Abd El-Fattah while attending COP27.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Abd El-Fattah’s situation was a “judicial matter” and claimed he had been given a “fair trial”.

On Monday, Seif said on Twitter that Egyptian prison officials sent a note to her mother saying that Abd El-Fattah was alive and had started drinking water again on Saturday.

Seif held a press conference last week in which she said the family did not know if Abd El-Fattah was still alive. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly resisted calls to release him.

Abd El-Fattah was a leading activist in the 2011 uprising in Egypt that toppled the government of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak’s democratically elected successor was overthrown in a coup and replaced by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president, under whose rule civil society and freedom of expression have been restricted.

Abd El-Fattah has spent much of the past decade in prison on charges activists say are politically motivated. In 2019, he was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for allegedly spreading false news after sharing a Facebook post highlighting human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons.

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