Jailed Egyptian-British activist may go on hunger strike at COP27, Amnesty chief warns


Imprisoned Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s deteriorating health will dominate the COP27 summit unless Egyptian authorities intervene, Amnesty International has warned.

Fears for the life of writer Abd El-Fattah have intensified as he continued his hunger strike of more than 200 days on Sunday by refusing to drink water.

“Let’s be very clear, we are running out of time. So if the authorities do not want to end up with a death they should avoid, they must act now; 24, 48 hours, 72 hours at most, how long do they need to save their lives,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International in Giza, Egypt, on Sunday.

“If they don’t, that death will hold COP27, it will be in every discussion, in every discussion Alaa will be there,” added Callamard.

Abd El-Fattah, who became a leading voice in the country’s 2011 uprising, has been jailed for nine years. In 2019, he was sentenced to another five years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news after sharing a Facebook post highlighting human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons.

Callamard said the “extremely serious human rights situation” in Egypt is “at the heart” of the agenda of the COP27 summit, which kicked off on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

“In other words, it’s about climate justice, but you can’t deliver climate justice anywhere in the world, including Egypt, if you don’t have human rights protection,” Callamard told reporters.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged on Sunday to raise Abd El-Fattah’s case with the Egyptian government when he attends a summit next week.

In a letter to Abd El-Fattah’s sisterSanaa Seif, Sunak expressed her concern about the activist’s “deteriorating health”, adding that her case “remains a priority for the British government”.

According to Sunak, British “ministers and officials continue to demand urgent consular access to Alaa, as well as press for his release at the highest levels of the Egyptian government.”

In a letter written to Sunak and shared with CNN, Seif said: “It is my honest belief that if Alaa is not released in the coming days he will personally be killed, probably while you are in Egypt.”

Abd El-Fattah’s mother was born in London in 1956 and became a British citizen in 2021, according to the Free Alaa campaign website. Since then, it has been his right to a consular visit by representatives of the British embassy, ​​a right Egypt has so far denied him, Free Alaa said.

The Free Alaa campaign says Abd El-Fattah has been on hunger strike since April 2.