Activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah breaks hunger strike in Egypt

The jailed pro-democracy campaigner stopped eating on November 1 and attracted attention as Egypt hosted COP27.

Imprisoned Egyptian-British pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah has ended his weeks-long hunger strike, his sister Mona Seif has said, posting a letter from him on Twitter.

In the letter written Monday evening but shared by Seif on Tuesday, Abd el-Fattah confirmed that he had broken his hunger strike, telling his family that he would “explain everything on Thursday” when they are scheduled to meet.

“I feel both relieved and apprehensive, Thursday can’t come soon enough … keep him in your thoughts & prayers,” his sister posted.

In his latest letter, he inquired about his mother’s welfare and asked them to bring a cake to celebrate his birthday on Thursday.

“I haven’t celebrated for a long time, and want to celebrate with my cellmates, so bring a cake,” he wrote.

Prison authorities have allowed him to communicate with his family through weekly letters.

One of Egypt’s most prominent pro-democracy activists, Abd el-Fattah has spent most of the last decade behind bars. Human rights advocates have said the case against him and his continued imprisonment is a “reprisal” for being a leader of the 2011 uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Abd el-Fattah, 40, started his hunger strike in a Cairo prison on November 1, and stopped drinking water from November 6, as world leaders gathered in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the COP27 climate summit.

His case attracted attention at the summit, with Seif speaking to journalists and attendees about his case.

Abd el-Fattah launched the strike to protest his years-long detention by Egyptian authorities on charges of spreading disinformation. He has also drawn attention to the cause of other political prisoners.

On Monday, the family were informed that he had resumed drinking water. His other sister, Sanaa Seif, said they were grateful that “Alaa is alive, he says he’s drinking water again as of November 12th,” adding that it was “proof of life, at last”.

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