Home » The battle of Alaa Abdel Fattah ruins the plans of the Egyptian regime – Catherine Cornet

The battle of Alaa Abdel Fattah ruins the plans of the Egyptian regime – Catherine Cornet

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The battle of Alaa Abdel Fattah ruins the plans of the Egyptian regime – Catherine Cornet

In the United Nations intergovernmental climate panel, COP27, meeting in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, for the first time, climate justice has entered the official agenda. But an unprecedented mobilization of activists and international political leaders to rescue the Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on a thirst strike (after two hundred days of hunger strike) reminds us that there can be no climate struggle without human rights.

For nine years, Alaa Abdel Fattah’s mother and two sisters – last arrested in 2019 for sharing a Facebook post in solidarity with political prisoners – have all used legal means available in Egypt to demand his release. Abdel Fattah was one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, he is an important intellectual and has spent the last ten years in prison, with some interruptions.

Faced with the rubber wall raised by the Egyptian authorities, the family decided to use the British nationality of the mother to make him have British citizenship too, in order to benefit from the consular protection of the United Kingdom and to be able to count on the help of the international community. From 2 April the most important political prisoner in the Middle East, author of the successful book You haven’t been defeated yetis on hunger strike.

During the last visits she managed to get, the family warned that the man is very weak and that his body “is disappearing”. Since the beginning of COP27, you have stopped drinking. And there has been no news of her health since then. His lawyer Khaled Ali had received the authorization of the prosecutor on 10 November to visit him in the prison of Wadi al Natrun, where her mother has been waiting for “a sign of life” for days. But the visit has been banned for administrative reasons.

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Linternational appeal
For the regime of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, COP27 was an opportunity to revive attention on the country and clean up its image, but things are not going as planned. The extraordinary mobilization of civil society and the courage of the three women of Abdel Fattah’s family reveal the unsustainable situation of human rights in the country.

Egypt has over 60,000 political prisoners according to Human Rights Watch. In the first two days of the summit, leaders such as Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz publicly stated that they had called for Abdel Fattah’s release during private meetings with the Egyptian president. Joe Biden announced that he will do it on Friday 11 November. Various personalities of activism and culture from around the world have declared their solidarity with Abdel Fattah: from Roger Waters to Greta Thunbergby the Indian writer Arundhati Roy to the Nobel Prize for Literature Annie Ernaux.

There were torchlight processions in front of British embassies around the world, his name was projected on the British museum. In Italy hundreds of people went on hunger strike on November 9 in solidarity with Abdel Fattah on the initiative of the blog Invisible Arabs and Amnesty international. In Sharm el Sheikh, on 10 November, hundreds of climate activists demonstrated to remember that “there is no climate justice without human rights”. Civil society delegates dressed in white to remember the Egyptian political prisoners.

The speech by Abdel Fattah’s sister, Sanaa Seif, a guest of the German pavilion on 9 November, was followed by a crowd of international journalists. But the woman was interrupted by a pro-government parliamentarian. Amnesty international general secretary Agnès Callamard commented: “The Egyptian ‘citizens’ tried to disturb the press conference, giving us all a little taste of the regime of fear and censorship that exists in the country right now”.

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The operation of greenwashing wanted by the Egyptian government is going badly. In the face of such strong international pressure, however, the government has not changed its attitude one iota. After denying that Abdel Fattah had been on hunger strike for 224 days, he has now stated that the detainee is being followed medically, without providing any other information. As in the case of Giulio Regeni, Western governments, which have billionaire contracts with Cairo, do not seem to want or be able to make use of this means of pressure, not even to save one of their fellow citizens.

David Lammy, shadow foreign minister of the British government and member of parliament of the constituency of the sisters of Alaa Abdel Fattah, he has declared to be outraged that his country has not “exploited the leverage it has over Egypt with a four billion pound trade agreement (…). UK citizens have been seriously betrayed ”.

The support of Western democracies for the Egyptian dictatorship is becoming more incomprehensible every day. Sanaa Seif, who has already been incarcerated three times in Egypt for her support for her brother, told COP27 audience with palpable concern that “whatever happens, Alaa has won. The symbolic battle was won thanks to your support. I just hope her body isn’t sacrificed for this. ”

“You have not been defeated,” wrote Alaa Abdel Fatah: if he could see the solidarity of civil society and the incredible mobilization for his release he would be even more convinced. On 11 November at 11 the Egyptians had planned a demonstration to challenge the government of Al Sisi. More than 135 activists had already been arrested prior to the event.

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