Another letter from Alaa from, and on, prison

Alaa Abdel Fattah, the Egyptian blogger and activist who has been jailed for refusing to answer the questions of a military prosecutor about the Maspero Affair, has been shifted to another cell. In another heart-breaking dispatch from prison, he explains why:

I am writing this note with a deep sense of shame. I have just been moved from Ist’naf (appeal) prison, at my request and insistence, because I simply couldn’t withstand the difficult conditions there: because of the darkness, the filth , the roaming cockroaches, crawling over my body night and day; because there was no courtyard, no sunshine and, again, the darkness.

However, what I couldn’t stand, above all, was the revoltingly toilets. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t navigate my way around the filthy, door-less, overcrowded toilets. So I spent my first five days simply “keeping it in”. Until I could take no more.

I found Nouara’s piece, celebrating my “manliness”, confusing, but Najlaa Budeir’s article reminded me how, in my previous stint here, my blog was my refuge, the sanctuary where I could be brutally candid with myself.

So yes, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t “man up” and bear it, even though I knew only too well that thousands were bravely and stoically enduring far worse conditions, even though I never had to suffer the untold horrors of military prisons, nor was I ever subjected to the torture meted out to those comrades of mine who had been sent down to the military courts.

And so, I let my Maspero protest comrades, my fellow prisoners facing the wrath of the ministry of defence, as well as other political detainees, down. I let down all those prisoners who had been moved, upon seeing the mayhem and fracas that my presence had been causing, to come and speak to me, sharing their tales of the horrors endured at the hands of the interior ministry, all so that I could tell the outside world about it. They were overjoyed that someone was going to speak up about the baltagia and the gangs.

Yet, I left them behind, because of dirty toilets.

Read the rest here.