Hunger strike led by 300 political prisoners in “Scorpion” prison

Press statement
Re: Hunger strike led by 300 political prisoners in “Scorpion” prison
death of American Egyptian dual citizen Moustafa Kassem in prison
Egyptian National Action Group

As the tragic news has just come out that American Egyptian dual citizen Moustafa Kassem has died in detention, more than 300 detainees of the “Scorpion” prison – the maximum security wing at Tora prison complex in Cairo – have been on a mass hunger strike following the death of the 47 year old inmate journalist Mahmoud Abdel Majid Saleh on January 5th, 2020. Mahmoud Saleh was denied access to medical care despite his deteriorating health condition and the calls for help from other prisoners. Until his death, he also suffered from cold and hunger.

Moustafa Kassem’s and Mahmoud Saleh’s deaths add to the sinister list of Egyptian political prisoners who died in detention, including President Mohamed Morsi who died last June.

The +300 political prisoners on hunger strike are calling for:

– An investigation into Mahmoud Saleh’s death
– Blankets to be supplied during winter
– The effective authorization to get out of their cells on a daily basis
– The right to have family visits.

Those demands are very minimalist in comparison to what their actual basic rights are according to the Egyptian Constitution and to the international convents Egypt is signatory of. Since 2013, many reports from NGOs and human rights specialists have denounced the brutal and inhuman conditions in which the prisoners are detained in “Scorpion” prison with dirty, dark and non-ventilated overcrowded cells – although some are maintained in solitary confinement for years, deliberate lack of access to adequate medical treatment, starvation and extreme heat in summer time and cold in winter. They are denied family visits as well as daily walks out of their cells. All of them are at risk of facing Mahmoud Saleh’s fate.

The prison authorities have so far completely ignored the hunger strike and even publicly denied there was any. But several striking prisoners have been sent in solitary confinement cells in retaliation. According to our information, dozens have lost consciousness on and off and some have fallen into a coma, receiving no medical assistance from the prison administration.

The Egyptian National Action Group would like to express its full-on support to the +300 detainees who launched this hunger strike. We join our voice to theirs by denouncing the slow death policy followed by the Egyptian authorities against the prisoners and to call for urgent actions from Egypt’s main political and economic supporters in the EU and in the USA.

With 60,000 political prisoners, Egypt is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. The Egyptian National Action Group believes that many foreign governments have the power to save the lives of hundreds by imposing greater pressure on the Egyptian regime. Their indulgence towards Sisi’s dictatorship so far has greatly influenced the fates of thousands of victims of the repression, including foreigners or dual citizens. We also hope that the international media will extensively cover the “Scorpion” prison mass hunger strike and expose the Sisi regime’s dreadful practices.

The Egyptian National Action Group
January 14th, 2020

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