Egyptian, Bahraini human rights activists speak

This video says about itself:

GV Face: Alaa Abd El Fattah and Maryam Al Khawajah on Hunger Strikes and Protests in Egypt and Bahrain

9 October 2014

Hundreds of political prisoners are currently on hunger strike in Egypt and Bahrain.

Up until a few weeks ago, both our guests in the episode of GV Face, Maryam and Alaa were on hunger strike and in jail because of their activism.

We will be talking to them about their activism, the struggles they face in Bahrain and Egypt and the hopes that keeps them resilient about their country’s future.

In Egypt, some hunger strikers have been in jail since anti-regime protests broke out on January 25, 2011. In Bahrain, which has been witnessing anti-regime protests since February 14, 2011, more than 600 political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest torture in jail.

Hunger strikes are frequently used as a method of non-violent resistance during which activists fast as an act of political protest to raise awareness about pressing issues they support — or their own plight. During the fast, hunger strikers refuse to take solid food and rely on liquids only, putting their own lives at risk.

Among them is political activist Mohamed Soltan, a 26-year-old Egyptian-American, who has been on hunger strike in an Egyptian prison for more than 250 days in an effort to fight for his freedom. He was arrested on August 25, 2013, and is facing trial for a number of terror charges in connection to his involvement in demonstrations at Rabaa Square on August 14, 2013, where more than 800 Egyptian protestors opposed to the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi were killed in one single day. Soltan was shot in the arm and arrested a few days later from his home.

Another political activist who started a wave of hunger strikes across Egyptian prisons and outside the walls of detention centres is Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was released on bail on September 15, 2014, after being sentenced for 15 years in prison. He was convicted of attacking a police officer and violating a 2013 protest law that prohibits unauthorised demonstrations.

In late August, Abd El Fattah began a hunger strike, days before the death of his father, prominent human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif El Islam.

After an appeal by his lawyers, Abd El Fattah was issued a retrial in August 2014. On Sept 15, 2014, the presiding judge recused himself from the case after an incident a week earlier, in which the prosecution presented a video depicting Manal Hassan, Abd El Fattah’s wife, dancing. Taken from Hassan’s laptop, which confiscated by police when Abd El Fattah was arrested and taken from his family’s home in November of 2013, the video bears no discernible relationship with his political activities. In another twist during the trial, the judge ordered that the aforementioned video be presented to the prosecutor general and placed under investigation for violating Abd El Fattah’s privacy.

Abd El Fattah has been jailed or investigated under every Egyptian head of state who has served during his lifetime. In 2006, he was arrested for taking part in a peaceful protest. In 2011, he spent two months in prison, missing the birth of his first child. In 2013, he was arrested and detained for 115 days without trial. And he now faces 15 years in prison. He is now out on bail, awaiting a re-trial.

In Bahrain, which has been witnessing anti-regime protests since February 14, 2011, more than 600 political prisoners went on hunger strike to protest against being tortured in prison.

Among them is human rights defender Abdul Hadi Al Khawajah, who has been jailed since April 9, 2011, and sentenced to life imprisonment for calling for the overthrow the regime. On February 8, 2012, Al Khawajah started an open-ended hunger strike “until freedom or death” protesting the continuing detentions. His protest lasted for 110 days, until his health deteriorated and he was force-fed by the authorities. In August this year, Al Khawajah entered his second hunger strike, which lasted a month. On the 27th day of his hunger strike, his daughter, human rights activist Maryam Al Khawajah, who like hundreds of other Bahrainis is forced to live outside her country, returned to Bahrain to see her father. She was arrested at the airport, and detained, accused of hitting a member of the police force. Maryam denies the charges. In detention, she started a hunger strike. Both she and her father have since stopped their strike. Her father remains in prison, while she has once again left the country after her release and the lift of a travel ban imposed upon her after her arrest.

In this edition of GV Face, we will speak to both Maryam and Alaa about their experiences, as they both continue to champion for the rights of the men and women in their countries.

See also here.

4 thoughts on “Egyptian, Bahraini human rights activists speak

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