Family of jailed British-Egyptian writer Alaa Abd El-Fattah call for his release ahead of COP27 | World News


The family of a British-Egyptian writer jailed in Cairo said world leaders will have “blood on their hands” if they take no action to secure his release during COP27.

Sanaa and Mona Seif, along with other family members, began their sit-in on 18 October in Whitehall and intend to stay until the COP27 conference.

The sisters are protesting the imprisonment of their brother – a pro-democracy writer and activist – who has been kept behind bars in Egypt for most of the past decade.

In December this year, El-Fattah was sentenced to five years behind bars, after being accused of spreading fake news.

The family, who spoke with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly over the phone on Wednesday and to Lord Tarim Ahmad, North Africa minister, on Thursday, said they would be ending their sit-in as their brother escalates his hunger strike.

Sanaa said: “You are going to be in the same land as a British citizen dying.

“And if you don’t show that you care, it will be interpreted as a green light to kill him. My brother can be saved.”

Addressing the world leaders heading to COP27, which starts on Sunday, Sanaa added: “If you don’t save him, you have blood on your hands.”

She said she is “not sure” the government has a plan and called on the media to “keep this story alive”.

The family will hold a vigil on Sunday at Downing Street and Sanaa said she will attend COP27 herself to campaign for his release.

Sanaa (left) and Mona Seif, the sisters of pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah
Sanaa (left) and Mona Seif, the sisters of the pro-democracy activist

Mona Seif also announced that her brother will be escalating his hunger strike in prison, including a water strike as COP27 takes place in Egypt.

“Alaa is not desperate to die,” she said.

“These are the actions of a man desperate to end this ordeal he has been sucked into for nine years and desperate to be reunited with his family.

“We honestly believe that if Alaa doesn’t make it while COP is taking place in Egypt, if Alaa is not freed by that point, Alaa is going to die in prison.”

Mona Seif (left), the sister of writer Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a British-Egyptian activist imprisoned in Egypt, at a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London. Picture date: Tuesday October 18, 2022.
Mona Seif (left) at a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London on 18 October

The majority of living Novel Literature Prize winners have recently written an open letter addressing world leaders, demanding the El-Fattah’s release along with the other “thousands of political prisoners” held in Egypt’s prisons.

The plea is calling for the COP27 attendees to use their platform to “speak the names of the imprisoned, to call for their freedom, and to invite Egypt to turn a page and become a true partner in a future that respects human life and dignity”.

Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists, environmental groups, and human rights defenders, are imprisoned in Egypt on “terrorism” charges, according to Human Rights Watch.


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