Supporters around the world of hunger striking Egyptian prisoner Hisham Fouad have launched a petition demanding his urgent release.
Hisham, a socialist and journalist, launched his hunger strike on 10 July, having been held for two years without trial in horrific conditions. Supporters who know him say he is kept in a dirty, pest-infested, windowless cell without even a bed to sleep on.
He has also been denied proper treatment for several pre-existing medical conditions.
Hundreds of people had already signed the petition less than 24 hours after it was launched. They include at least four Irish TDs, a member of the Spanish Congress and forty trade unionists, lawyers and activists in Greece.
The petition, coordinated by the Egypt Solidarity Initiative, is aimed at piling pressure on the Egyptian regime.
It says, “We hold the Egyptian authorities responsible for his well-being and safety. The persecution of Hisham and other political activists, journalists, human rights workers and researchers unjustly detained in Egypt must end.
“The Egyptian authorities must stop using ‘pre-trial’ detention to incarcerate and silence critical voices.”
Hisham is a well-known activist for workers’ rights in Egypt and also played a leading role in Palestine solidarity campaigns.
He is one of some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt—victims of state repression launched by dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as part of a counter-revolution.
Hisham was detained in June 2019, and charged on trumped up accusations of “economic conspiracy” along with at least 17 others.
Egyptian law says the maximum time a person can be detained without trial is two years. Yet his lawyers report that, rather than release him, the regime is preparing a new case aimed at detaining him even longer.
In a statement from his prison cell, Hisham said, “I decided to begin a hunger strike, starting from Saturday 10th of July, in defence of the rule of law and the right to a fair trial and to stop this endless cycle.
“I hope that my young family, whom I hold in love and appreciation, will understand this decision. And that my children will realise that I did not accept injustice, whether inside or outside of prison.”
Hisham is counting on solidarity. He says he won’t win “without uniting all those who stand in solidarity with the forces of life in society and with freedom-loving people around the world.”