Alaa Abd El-Fattah is being 'left to die on the world stage', with Cop27 taking place while British activist is locked up in Egypt

7 November 2022, 19:14

Alaa Abd El-Fattah is being left to die on the world stage, his aunt has said
Alaa Abd El-Fattah is being left to die on the world stage, his aunt has said. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/LBC

By Kit Heren

Alaa Abd El-Fattah is being "left to die on the world stage", his aunt has said, with the British-Egyptian activist's zero-calorie hunger strike taking place against the backdrop of Cop27 in Egypt.

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Mr El-Fattah was imprisoned in December, but has spent most of the last decade behind bars in Cairo over his pro-democracy activism.

He has been on hunger strike since April, and has not eaten anything for a week. He has not drunk any water since Sunday morning in a bid to escalate the campaign to free him.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah is on day 219 of hunger strike

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, his aunt Ahdaf Soueif said Mr El-Fattah "finds it impossible to be passive. And this is his way of helping the campaign to free him.

He desperately wants to live. But he wants to live a life that has meaning and purpose."

The British government has been campaigning to get him freed, but to no avail so far.

A protest for the release of Alaa El-Fattah in London on Sunday
A protest for the release of Alaa El-Fattah in London on Sunday. Picture: Getty

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly are in Egypt for the climate summit. Ms Soueif called on them to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities while out there.

"What does it mean if you put all the might of civil society, and of the cultural world behind one of your citizens, and you declaer him to be a priority and you keep repeating that you are talking to a friendly government with whom you enjoy excellent and transparent relationships, with whom you have billions of investment - and yet your request falls on deaf ears and they allow him to die on the world stage?" she asked.

Andrew suggested that if El-Fattah is not freed now, he could never get out of prison.

"This is exactly what we believe and what we fear," Ms Soueif said.

Sanaa Seif, sister of imprisoned British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah
Sanaa Seif, sister of Alaa Abdel Fattah. Picture: Getty

"Alaa believes and we believe him tht the Egyptian authorities have no intention of taking him out of prison, it’s not a matter of completing this unfair term and then being free.

"They will recycle him as they have been doing for the last decade.

"So while the eyes of Egypt are on Cop27 and while there is a desire for a better world and while we need, really, all the progressive, thoughtful voices that we can get together. It is the moment that we can set him free."

Rishi Sunak has promised the family he would raise their plight to the Egyptian president but would update the family after COP27, which the family fears could be too late.

Sister of jailed British-Egyptian activist says gov must 'step up'.

The Foreign Office has said ministers are "deeply concerned" about the incarceration of Abd El-Fattah and that they are "working hard" to secure his release.

His sister Mona told LBC's David Lammy on Sunday: “He is going to these extreme measures because after nine years in this ordeal, he actually feels, and this is rightfully so, that Cop27 - with the whole world and all of world leaders in Egypt - is his only opportunity to come out of this prison alive.”

“Unless Rishi Sunak comes back with my brother alive from Egypt while he is at Cop, Alaa won’t make it out of Sisi’s prison except in a coffin,” she added.

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