Egypt: Nobel laureates urge Cairo to release Alaa Abdel Fattah


Posted on Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:39
Sit-In For Jailed British-Egyptian Activist
A young boy looks at a stone as placards are displayed opposite the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office during a sit-in for jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah on October 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images via AFP)

Nobel laureates called on COP27 host Egypt to release jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, in an open letter published Wednesday ahead of the global climate summit.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, a major figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, is currently serving a five-year sentence for “broadcasting false news”, having already spent much of the past decade behind bars.

Among the 13 Nobel Prize in Literature laureates who signed the letter are J. M. Coetzee, Louise Gluck, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Kazuo Ishiguro, Herta Muller, Orhan Pamuk and Wole Soyinka, according to British publishing house Fitzcarraldo Editions.

They “urge the world not to forget about the many thousands of political prisoners held in Egypt’s prisons – most urgently, the Egyptian-British writer and philosopher, Alaa Abdel Fattah”.

The laureates also include Svetlana Alexievich, Annie Ernaux, Elfriede Jelinek, Mario Vargas Llosa, Patrick Modiano and Olga Tokarczuk.

Starting November 6 with COP27, he will go on a water strike.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate George Smith and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Sir Roger Penrose also signed the letter.

After a hunger strike for the past seven months consuming only “100 calories a day,” the family of Abdel Fattah announced this week a full hunger strike.

“Starting November 6 with COP27, he will go on a water strike,” his sister Mona Seif said.

Abdel Fattah, who in April gained British citizenship in prison through his UK-born mother, has been making headlines in the run-up to the United Nations climate summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

COP27 = Greenwash human rights recored

Rights groups claim Cairo is using the UN conference to “greenwash” its record.

More than 90 heads of state and government are set to attend the summit between November 6 and 18.

The Nobel laureates asked attendees to speak for “the most vulnerable” and “support the call from Egyptian and international human rights groups for a prisoner amnesty”.

“If COP27 ends up a silent gathering, where no one risks speaking openly for fear of angering the COP presidency, then what future is it that will be being negotiated over?”, the letter added.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism over its human rights record since it was announced as COP27 host last year, a move rights groups said “rewards the repressive rule” of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Rights group estimate that some 60,000 political prisoners are behind bars in Egypt, many of them in brutal conditions and overcrowded cells, accusations Cairo rejects.

Egyptian authorities “arbitrarily detained at least 138” people in the week leading up to Tuesday, according to a statement by eight Egyptian rights groups, amid a crackdown on activists over a mysterious online call for protests on 11 November.


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