After months of an escalating hunger strike, a weakened body, and years of injustice and suffering, British-Egyptian activist, blogger, and software developer Alaa Abd El-Fattah sipped his last cup of tea and has eliminated the ~100 calories/day that have kept him alive. He’s now on a zero-calorie strike, he recently wrote to his family. On November 6, 2022, before the start of COP27 — the world’s leading climate change summit — in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Alaa will stop drinking water. Time is running out. Alaa will either be free in the next few days or he might die in an Egyptian prison during COP27 as the world watches. The United Kingdom Foreign Office must immediately intervene to save his life! #FreeAlaa
“The crisis is not in our awareness of the danger of climate change, it is in our inability to imagine alternative ways of organizing our lives.”
— The weight of the world: on framing the fight against climate change, Alaa Abd El-Fattah
Meanwhile, there are very valid fears that the conference will greenwash the human rights abuses, caused by Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s authoritarian regime. Advancing rights-respecting climate action requires an open, inclusive, and unrestricted civic space, and Egypt authorities should release all prisoners of conscience, including Alaa, before the conference.
Access Now joins nearly 200 organizations and more than 500 individuals, including climate activists and groups Greta Thunberg, Climate Action Network International (CAN), and Greenpeace, in calling on Egyptian authorities to release journalists and political prisoners in the country ahead of COP27.
Alaa’s health continues to rapidly deteriorate as he has been surviving on skimmed milk or a spoonful of honey in his tea. He is fighting with his only weapon: his body. Now more than ever, time is running out, as Alaa will go on a water strike on November 6.
On the 200th day of Alaa’s hunger strike, Sanaa Seif, his younger sister, started a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London to demand the government save her brother. Over 60 British MPs have also called on UK Secretary of State James Cleverly to free Alaa before COP27. Despite all the pressure, Alaa has yet to receive a UK consular visit, cannot communicate with his UK lawyers, and is still asking for a judge to investigate the complaints he and his family have filed over his unjust detention.
A central figure in technology and political activism in his country since the early 2000s, and a global voice during the Arab uprisings in the early 2010s, Egyptian authorities have attempted to silence Alaa through unlawful imprisonment for most of the last decade.
Alaa has faced all manner of torture and inhumane treatment, and his friends and family have been subject to harassment, intimidation, and even detainment themselves. His most recent sentencing does not account for the more than two years Alaa already spent in prison awaiting trial, confined to a small cell inside Cairo’s infamous Tora maximum security prison without a clock, books, or exercise, and only allowed out of his cell for court appearances and visitations. Although he was recently transferred to the new Wadi el-Natrun prison complex where he “slept on a mattress for the first time in years” and received books and writing materials, and allowed to exercise, authorities are still targeting Alaa and denying his basic rights. Punishing Alaa is not enough, as authorities are persecuting people in the activist’s orbit, and denying those he shares a prison cell with access to a radio. Alaa’s sentence ends on January 3, 2027.
Join us in calling on Egypt and the UK Foreign Office to #FreeAlaa, along with the thousands of other human rights defenders wrongfully detained in Egyptian prisons.
Alaa has always been a vocal advocate for free speech. In 2006, he was jailed for taking part in a peaceful protest. A few months after the January 25th revolution in 2011, Alaa was forced to miss the birth of his son, as he was jailed and awaiting military trial. In 2013, he spent 115 days in jail without trial, which ended in a five-year sentence with an additional five-year probationary period. In 2019, Alaa was wrongfully re-arrested on allegations of spreading fake news and joining a terrorist organization. Since then, Alaa has been locked inside the maximum-security wing of Tora Prison. In December 2021, the activist was handed an absurd five years sentence on trumped up charges, with the years that he languished in prison while awaiting trial not counting toward time served. On April 2, 2022, and after years of unlawful imprisonment, mistreatment, and torture, Egyptian activist, blogger, and software developer Alaa Abd El-Fattah shaved his head and started a hunger strike on the first day of Ramadan. A few days later, on April 11, Alaa’s family announced that he had become a British citizen through his mother.
Have a press inquiry or want to know more about this campaign? Contact
Kassem Mnejja | MENA Campaigner | [email protected]