Nineteen human rights organizations said that twelve detained activists have started a hunger strike since early February in protest of their prolonged pre-trial detention in the Tora prison complex, and their health is in danger due to the deterioration of their physical condition.
The organizations called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and all other individuals currently detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The organizations issued a joint statement in which they noted that the United Nations Group on Arbitrary Detention had highlighted the problem of arbitrary detention in Egypt, explaining that under certain circumstances widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe forms of deprivation of liberty can constitute a violation of the rules of international law and crimes against humanity. The statement stated that there are tens of thousands of individuals arbitrarily detained in Egypt, including activists, political figures, journalists, students, lawyers, employees of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, women influential on social media, and individuals who criticize the political, economic and social conditions.
The organizations indicated that UN experts raised serious concerns about the inhumane prison conditions, the denial of family visits for detainees, the inability of prisoners to communicate with lawyers, and the lack of adequate medical care inside prisons. They called on the Egyptian authorities to quickly address prison conditions and change what appear to be well-established practices that severely violate people’s right to life.
According to the statement, detained women are subjected to torture and gender-based violence in custody by the authorities. Egypt failed to respond to appeals by 31 countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council, a year ago, to end its persecution of activists, journalists and political opponents. The 19 organizations urged the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained for peacefully exercising their rights and others arbitrarily detained, and to protect detainees from torture and other forms of ill-treatment.