Egypt Watch

Deprived of sun and air: a message from prisoners in Scorpion

A leaked message from the detainees inside the Scorpion wing of Tora Prison, “deprived of sun and water,” has revealed the extent of the suffering of prisoners in one of the most horrific prisons in Egypt and the Middle East.

The detainees complained of being deprived of sun and air along with being prevented from communicating with the outside world. They are neglected medically and insulted repeatedly.

The message said: “They put two, three or four detainees inside tight solitary cells with poor ventilation. It’s a tomb and the only way [to get] air is from the door which is opened for half an hour daily. When we go inside [we see only concrete,] we never see the sun, and there is no ventilation inside.”

The message continued: “Even [the] little time [that is allocated] for jogging is controlled by the prison authorities according to political and security conditions. With every political or security event, our time for jogging is prevented for weeks, even opening and closing doors has become a psychological game for them with us. We may stay for a long time inside these tombs in full isolation. We don’t know what’s happening out there or why they prevented us from jogging.”

The message added that in 2016 jogging was allowed in a square yard surrounded with an iron cage. “It was closed in 2017. Since then, cases of tuberculosis, scabies and asthma have become common, while not a day goes by without psychotic outbreaks or heart attacks.”

“Dreams of any of us to see our sons or daughters, to see our mothers or fathers before we pass away [are gone]. Many previous detainees were killed by medical neglect without seeing their loved ones.”

The message comes days after a video was released showing a tour of Tora Prison made by members of the media and public figures chosen by the government. They attempted to show prison conditions in a positive light in response to persistent criticism over prison conditions in Egypt, in particular of the Scorpion wing within Tora Prison, which has become a graveyard for political opponents in Egypt.