The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Tora Prison authorities crackdown as hunger strike escalates

The Prison authorities cracked down on the hunger-striking detainees in Tora, as the strike escalated, with 13 activists in total taking action on its second day.

The strike started on Saturday night/Sunday morning, with six detainees in Mahkoum Tora, refusing to eat. The prisoners, according to activist and legal sources, made it clear to the prison authorities the strike was not directed against them, but against State Security’s brutal treatment of Mohamed el-Sharqawi, demanding his medical examination, an investigation into to the torture incident, and the release of all pro-judges detainees.

“By torturing Sharqawi,� detainee Wael Khalil was quoted by an activist who visited him today, “State Security was sending a message to us ‘This is what awaits you if you decide to take to the streets again after your release.’�

The prison authorities on the first day of the hunger strike, moved the six detainees into solitary confinement cells.

The Mahkoum Tora “is an old prison. These solitary confinement cells do not meet the legal standards specified by human rights treaties,� the detainees’ lawyer Gamal Eid said. “The ventilation is horrible. There is no water, no toilets.� Kamal Khalil, director of the Center for Socialist Studies who’s suffering from respiratory problems, was transferred to the prison hospital yesterday, Eid added.

When protesting the solitary confinement of their colleagues, the prison authorities notified the detainees they were acting on orders from State Security Police, Wael Khalil was reported as saying by the activist who visited him.

Faced with that, seven more detainees joined the hunger strike, instead of two as originally scheduled, on the following day including:

1-Karim el-Sha3er

2-Ashraf Ibrahim

3-Bahaa Saber

4-3emad Sho3eib

5-Ahmad Maher

6-3adel el-Gazzar

7-Nael Abdel Hamid

Since there were only 10 solitary confinement cells in Mahkoum Tora, the first three above-mentioned prisoners were moved to another prison complex, said to be Mazra3et Tora.

According to Eid and an activist source, Sharqawi’s health is still in a critical level, suffering from unbearable chest pains. Eid said however, the authorities finally transferred his detained client to the forensic medical department on Sunday, and provided basic medical treatment at the prison hospital yesterday.