‘Step up and save Alaa’: Sister of imprisoned British-Egyptian activist urges PM to bring her brother home

6 November 2022, 13:51

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

By Hannah Holland

The sister of Alaa Abd El-Fattah has told LBC's David Lammy that COP27 is the "only opportunity" for her brother to "come out of prison alive" as he escalates his six-month long hunger strike.

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

The British-Egyptian activist has been on hunger strike since April, and has pledged to stop drinking water to escalate his protest as COP27 begins in Egypt.

His family have expressed fears that, without intervention, Abd El-Fattah will die before the climate summit concludes on 18 November.

Abd El-Fattah’s sister, Mona Seif, told David Lammy that her brother’s life now lies “within the hands of two governments - the Egyptian government and the British government”.

Mona Seif holds a photo of her brother outside the Foreign Office in June.
Mona Seif holds a photo of her brother outside the Foreign Office in June. Picture: Alamy

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak U-turns and will travel to Cop27 after Boris confirms he will attend crucial climate talks

READ MORE: Aunt of jailed activist 'too afraid to research' impacts of his hunger strike

“I’ve been asking the successive foreign secretaries to meet with you - that has not happened,” David responded.

However, on Saturday, Mona and her family received a letter from Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, which reassured them that “Alaa’s case is now a top priority”, Mona revealed.

In the letter, Rishi Sunak 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.

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.

Mona explained: “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.

Mona Seif protesting for her brother at a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London in October.
Mona Seif protesting for her brother at a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London in October. Picture: Alamy

Alaa Abd El-Fattah has been an outspoken opponent of the Egyptian government since the uprising in 2011.

“We are now waiting for the governments, for the UK government, for the Egyptian government and for all world leaders because this should be an international matter,” Mona insisted.

Continuing, she said: “Human rights, the life of a writer, of a father to an eleven-year-old girl, in prison solely for his writing, should be an international matter.”

“It’s now up to the governments to step up and save Alaa.”

“This is not just about Alaa’s story - this is about tens of thousands of Egyptians who are languishing in prisons, ignored by the International community and the international world.

“This is about a president who has been able to sustain a horrific record of human rights violations with the support of world leaders from the UK, from Germany, from the US and from France.”

At least 60,000 political prisoners have reportedly been jailed since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi gained power in 2013.

COP27 has brought renewed attention to Egypt's human rights abuses with activists like Greta Thunberg boycotting the event.