Middle East

Jailed Egyptian dissident announces hunger strike ahead of COP27 climate summit

CAIRO, Egypt — Over 200 days into a partial hunger strike, jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah will fully refrain from food, as Egypt prepares to host the COP27 climate summit, his family said Monday.

A major figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Fattah is currently serving a five-year sentence for “broadcasting false news,” having already spent much of the past decade behind bars.

The activist has only been consuming “100 calories a day, in the form of a spoon of honey and a drop of milk in tea,” according to his sister, Mona Seif.

Abdel Fattah, who in April gained British citizenship in prison through his UK-born mother, wrote to his family that he will be starting a full hunger strike on Tuesday.

And “starting November 6th with COP27, he will go on a water strike,” Seif tweeted Monday.

Abdel Fattah has been making headlines in the run-up to the United Nations climate summit, which Egypt is hosting in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, left, a leading Egyptian pro-democracy activist walks with his mother, Laila Soueif, a university professor who is also an activist, outside a court, in Cairo, Egypt, October 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal, File)

Human rights defenders and NGOs claim Cairo is using the conference to “greenwash” its human rights record.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who will not be attending the summit, has tweeted “in solidarity with prisoners of conscience in Egypt.”

She also expressed support for COP Civic Space, a coalition of Egyptian human rights groups formed in the run-up to the climate summit.

Thunberg held up a sign reading “Free Alaa before COP27” last week in London, joining Abdel Fattah’s sisters who have held a sit-in outside the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London for two weeks.

The protest is the sisters’ most recent attempt to draw attention to the plight of Abdel Fattah and some 60,000 other political prisoners who rights groups say are being held in Egypt.

In June, then-UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said Britain was “working very hard to secure his release.” European and British lawmakers have also voiced support for Abdel Fattah.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism of its human rights record since it was announced as the host of the COP27 climate summit last year, a move rights groups said “rewards the repressive rule” of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

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