Family of jailed activists announce full hunger strike

Monday 27-10-2014 07:04 PM
Family of jailed activists announce full hunger strike

CAIRO, Oct 27 (Aswat Masriya) – The family of jailed political activists Alaa Abdel Fattah and his sister Sanaa Seif announced going on a full hunger strike on Monday in response to the activists' imprisonment.

Laila Soueif, Cairo University professor and mother of the two activists, announced on her facebook account that she and her daughter, Mona Seif, will fully refrain from food and water consumption, an escalation from their initial 54-day hunger strike.

An Egyptian court ordered on Monday the preventive detention of Abdel Fattah and other defendants accused of violating last year's protest law pending their retrial.

Abdel Fattah joined his 20-year-old sister, a university student, and 22 others who were sentenced to three years in prison also for violating the same legislation on Sunday.

Seif was arrested alongside 23 others on June 21 while taking part in a march calling for the repeal of the protest law and the release of all those arrested on background of the law.

Soueif described the verdict against her daughter as "unjust".

Abdel Fattah and 24 other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison in June for illegal assembly, among other charges.

The political activist, believed to be among the youth who sparked the January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, was arrested from his home in November last year for illegal assembly, blocking roads, attacking a police officer and stealing his radio. The other defendants were arrested after the authorities dispersed a demonstration denouncing a constitutional article which permits military trials for civilians outside the Shura Council on November 26.

Though released in March, Abdel Fattah was sent back to jail on June 11 after the court sentenced him and the other defendants to 15 years in absentia for the same charge. He was released on a 5000 Egyptian-pound bail on September 15.

The 25 defendants were initially charged with protesting without permit, attacking and resisting the authorities among other crimes.

Abdel Fattah announced going on hunger strike on August 19 to protest his detention. His decision sparked a larger hunger strike campaign, which picked up in late August and gained momentum in September, attracting over 1000 participants.

Sanaa Seif joined the hunger strike on August 28 in protest over last year's protest law and the "unjust" detention of youth, Soueif said. Her mother and sister closely followed, joining it on September 4.

Former interim President Adli Mansour issued the protest law on November 24 to regulate peaceful assembly. The law has long been the epicentre of wide criticism by domestic and international human rights organisations which say it violates international standards for peaceful protests.

The legislation obliges demonstrators to inform the authorities of their intention to assemble three days prior to their scheduled events. It also gives the interior ministry the right to cancel, postpone or move protests.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) filed on September 13 a lawsuit at the Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt's top court, challenging the constitutionality of articles in the law.

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