Detainees start hunger strike in another Egyptian prison - El Nadeem

Wednesday 02-03-2016 07:29 PM

Tora prison - Reuters

CAIRO, Mar 2 (Aswat Masriya) – Detainees in the Shebin al-Kom prison in Menoufia started a hunger strike on Wednesday, the anti-torture El Nadeem centre said, while the interior ministry denied the matter.   

The hunger strike was started in objection to purported "beating and electrocution" as well as the general "deteriorating conditions" inside prison, El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence said in a statement.

"The detainees' hunger strike is open until demands are met," the centre added.

But assistant to the interior minister for prison affairs, Hassan al-Sohagy told Aswat Masriya that news of the hunger strike were unfounded, and denied that there were hunger strikes in Egypt's prisons.

Another security source told Aswat Masriya that hunger strikes happen from time to time, and attributed them to the prisoners being prevented from visits.

However, sometimes family visits are prevented because of the large number of visitors from the families of the detainees, the source added.

The hunger strike in the Menoufia prison, makes it the second Egyptian prison in which inmates have resorted to hunger strike after the notorious al-Aqrab prison whose conditions have specifically come under scrutiny in recent months.

On Feb. 18, the families of the Aqrab detainees gathered on the stairs of the press syndicate, to announce that the detainees are on hunger strikes, and to demand an end to what they have described as “humiliating” visiting conditions. 

The maximum-security Aqrab prison is located in the Torah prison complex in Cairo and its inmates have gone on hunger strike in December, citing abuses.  The families of Aqrab detainees have repeatedly recounted their dire experiences with prison authorities during visits and inspections.   

Among the detainees in Aqrab prison, is student Amr Rabee and Ultras White Knights member Sayed Ali who have been on full hunger strike since mid-February, their lawyer previously told Aswat Masriya.

Conditions in Egyptian prisons have been largely under scrutiny by local and international human rights organisations and the interior ministry has been facing wide scale criticism over the reports coming out of prisons.

In a report issued early in September, El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence documented 56 deaths inside Egypt's detention facilities, 57 torture cases, 44 cases of medical negligence and 38 cases of enforced disappearances in August alone.

Last month, El Nadeem Centre, an NGO founded in 1993, was threatened with closure by the health ministry for "violations" which were not specified. The Center's lawyer Taher Aboul Nasr was able to postpone the decision and the NGO later on said that if the centre and its clinic are shut down, it will "continue to release" reports and "help victims of violence and torture as long as we are doctors."

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