The Stream

Can a human rights campaign during COP27 free Alaa Abd el-Fattah?

On Wednesday, November 16 at 19:30 GMT:
As Egypt hosts the COP27 climate talks, human rights advocates are focusing on the fate of detained British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who had been on a more than 200-day hunger strike. His family and supporters say Alaa’s case and those of thousands of other political prisoners in Egypt cannot be ignored as world leaders and summit delegates discuss climate justice in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Abd el-Fattah, a software developer and blogger who rose to prominence during the 2011 Arab Spring, began a partial hunger strike in April to protest his imprisonment.

On the sidelines of COP27, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have reportedly raised the activist’s case during talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Abd el-Fattah has been detained for most of the past decade, on charges of spreading false information and organising unauthorised protests. In December 2021, he was sentenced to five years in prison for reposting a Facebook post about human rights violations in prison.

Since Egypt’s 2013 military coup and overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, human rights watchdogs say the government’s crackdown on political dissent has been severe. Rights organisations believe about 60,000 political prisoners have been jailed since 2013, though el-Sisi denies their existence. In the lead-up to COP27, Amnesty International documented the arrests of 1,540 people for exercising free speech.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at Abd el-Fattah’s plight and the solidarity movement that has formed around Egypt’s political prisoners during COP27.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Mona Seif, @Monasosh
Human rights activist and sister of Alaa Abd el-Fattah

Hussein Baoumi, @husseinmagdy16
Egypt & Libya researcher, Amnesty International

Allison McManus, @AllisonLMcManus @thefreedomi
Research director, The Freedom Initiative