Freedom of expression

Family of jailed human rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah attacked, sister detained


In the early hours of June 22, Dr. Laila Soueif, mother of imprisoned human rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, and her daughters Mona and Sanaa Seif were brutally beaten by an unknown group of women in front of Cairo’s Tora Prison while peacefully waiting to receive a letter from their imprisoned family member. They have been continually deprived of contact with, or new information about, Alaa since he was detained in September 2019, and have not received any updates about his condition since June 6, 2020. 

Today, June 23, Alaa’s sister Sanaa Seif was confronted by security officials in plain clothes and forced into an unmarked vehicle in front of the Prosecutor-General’s office as she arrived to join her mother and sister Mona to submit a complaint regarding the previous day’s assault and the continued detention of Alaa. Later reports from Alaa’s family and local organizations revealed the disappearance was orchestrated by the National Security Agency, and Sanaa is currently being held in detention while waiting to face criminal charges. 

“They were waiting for her. The police officers stopped her with her lawyer and her friend in front of the Prosecutor-General’s office. They asked for her ID card to make sure it was her and then they kidnapped her in a minibus with 3 other cars,” said Mona Seif on Twitter after the incident.

After serving a five-year sentence for organizing a protest without permission, Alaa was freed from prison in March 2019. Under his probation conditions, the activist was required to spend nights in a police cell for five years. Despite abiding by his probation requirements, Alaa has been held in detention without charge since September 2019, where prosecutors have continually renewed his detention. In April 2020, Alaa entered a hunger strike spanning almost three weeks in protest over his ongoing detention and the dismal conditions of Tora Prison, which have grown even worse following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 18, after weeks of no communication, Alaa finally managed to get a letter to his family to inform them his hunger strike was over. 

Despite the prison authorities’ promises, Alaa’s family did not hear any further news from him amidst alarming reports of COVID-19 cases in a number of Egyptian prisons. As a result, his mother vowed to wait outside the prison until she received a letter from her son. Throughout this time she was subject to harassment by prison authorities and threatened with arrest.

We call upon Egyptian authorities to immediately release Sanaa and Alaa and all the detained activists and human rights defenders who are being held for simply exercising their fundamental rights of assembly and freedom of expression. 

Raise your voice and say no to these inhuman conditions and violence that Alaa and his family are currently suffering from.

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