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Egyptian-British activist ends hunger strike, family says

November 15, 2022

The sister of the Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah says he has ended his hunger strike. The blogger had recently stopped drinking water prompting fears of his imminent death.

A man holds signs and placards as he stands with supporters during a protest calling for his release
Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The sisters of imprisoned activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah on Tuesday both tweeted a picture of a letter saying their brother had ended his hunger strike.

El-Fattah who has been on hunger strike for more than 220 days, had escalated his protest by ceasing to drink water on November 6 — the opening day of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

What did the letter say?

The letter was posted by the activist's sisters, Mona and Sanaa, who confirmed it had come from him. The correspondence, dated Monday and sent to Abdel Fattah's mother, said he was looking forward to a family visit later this week.

"I want to celebrate my birthday with you on Thursday, I have't celebrated for a long time, and want to celebratewith my cellmates so bring a cake, normal provisions.

"I've broken my strike. I'll explain everything on Thursday," the letter dated on Monday said, according to the tweet.

On Monday, the family said it had already received a letter from prison that served as "proof of life" from the hunger striker. They also said he had resumed drinking water at that point, and had asked them to bring vitamins.

International calls for release

The water strike was timed to coincide Egypt's hosting of the climate summit to highlight his case and those of other political prisoners.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had aöö expressed concern and called for Abdel-Fattah's release.

Egypt's human rights abuses overshadow COP27 conference

As one of the most prominent pro-democracy activists in Egypt, Abdel Fattah has spent most of the last decade in prison. Some see his detention as symbolic of Egypt's return to an autocratic rule. 

He is presently serving a five-year prison sentence on charges related to the sharing of a Facebook post. The activist embarked on a hunger strike in protest at his sentence and prison conditions. 

El-Fattah rose to prominence in Egypt's 2011 uprising before being arrested and imprisoned for the first time in 2014 in a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent.

Edited by: Sean Sinico

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.