Shadi Habash’s death 2020 reminds with Khaled Said’s 2010

The statement issued by the Egyptian Attorney General’s statement on the causes of the death of the young director Shadi Habash in his prison in Tora prison last Saturday, raised a state of irony and anger, as activists considered that the Egyptian regime repeats what Mubarak’s regime did in the case of the Egyptian youth Khaled Said in 2010.

In a statement on Tuesday on the death of Habash, 24, who had been arrested in March 2018 after he participated in a video mocking President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Public Prosecutor said that he died after Saturday dawn complaining of abdominal pain.

The prosecution pointed out that Habash had drunk two cans of antiseptic alcohol, which raised questions about how he had alcohol in the prison.

Human rights activists have accused the authorities of killing him, at least because of medical negligence, “because the symptoms of methanol poisoning are known to any doctor, and he would have been saved if he had been treated quickly.”

The activist Mona Saif, sister of the arrested activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, said that the prosecution statement is supposed to lead to the trial of prison doctors and all the responsible officers.

The statement reminded activists about what the prosecution also claimed that the cause of the death of activist Khaled Said in 2010 was a roll of hashish.

Khaled Said’s death was one of the important reasons that sparked the anger of the Egyptians in the January 25, 2011 revolution that toppled the late President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.

Activists accused the Public Prosecution office of covering up the violations carried out by the Ministry of Interior, or turning a blind eye to it, as the prosecution ignored in its statement that Habash had exceeded the maximum period of pre-trial detention of two years without releasing.

The prosecutor’s statement came a day after France expressed concern following the announcement of Habash’s death, and called on Cairo to respect its international “obligations” regarding conditions of detention. 

Shadi Habash’s incident is at least the third in one ward in Tora prison, among prisoners of conscience in less than 6 months.

Last January, Mustafa Kassim, 54, who holds American citizenship, died in January. Amr Adel also died in the same prison at the age of 29.

Nine Egyptian human rights organizations considered the death of the young director Shadi Habash in his prison, “a new evidence of the deteriorating conditions in Egyptian prisons and the lack of health care there.

The nine organizations recorded testimonies stating that the detainees, Shadi colleagues, were still calling and shouting for help to their Shadi for hours without any response.

The organizations renewed their demand to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect the conditions of Egyptian prisons and to determine their conditions after the frightening increase in deaths associated with medical negligence in prisons.

The organizations also demanded the formation of a national mechanism of independent human rights organizations to organize unannounced visits to prisons and ensure that they applied all required measures of separation, cleanliness, and protection, especially in light of the spread of the COVID 19 epidemic.

The organizations that signed the statement are the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, The Committee for Justice, the Nadim Center, the Beladi Center for Rights and Freedoms, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, the Foundation for Freedom of Thought and Expression, and the Freedom Initiative.

The organizations said, “The death of Shadi Habash brings to mind the names of dozens of creators, including artists, directors, authors, poets, writers, publishers and bloggers, whose lives are currently lost in prisons because of exercising their legitimate right to freedom of creativity, as well as others who were hidden or prosecuted and released through precautionary measures or after incarceration periods; prolonged as a method of intimidation and deterrence.”