Family: Egypt activist ‘deteriorated’ since hunger strike
Egypt’s human rights lawyer Ahmed Mansour has deteriorated dramatically since he and dozens of colleagues started a three-month hunger-strike last week in protest over their indefinite detention without charge.
“I’m very sad,” Mansour told The Associated Press on Monday as he prepared to fly to the United States on the first leg of a three-day visit to meet with family, lawyers, academics and community supporters. But he said that he isn’t the only one who has been affected.
“I haven’t seen a single friend I’ve known for a long time,” he said. “What do you expect them to do just sitting around?”
Mansour and the roughly 50 others held in Egypt’s notorious Saharna prison and detention facility have protested for a week now, demanding a speedy trial and accountability for the killing of 18 activists in police custody and the use of torture during interrogations.
“We have not even begun to explain to our families how we’re going to be able to pay for their plane tickets,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than 100 government officials have filed a request to suspend and ultimately ban the hunger-strike. The officials also have threatened to put the people in the Saharna prison on trial and arrest their family members.
The government says it has not yet decided on a response but that officials who have taken part in the hunger strike so far have been detained.
Mansour, who said there is a real hunger for information about the Saharna prison and its conditions, but also real fear of reprisal for speaking out, said Monday that the strike could have consequences for other activists who are not currently being held.
“If these guys succeed in getting their own trial and they’re charged,” Mansour said, “they’re going to be in more trouble. They aren’t going to get the publicity that I’m getting.”