Monday 24 October 2016

Hunger-strike Ibrahim tells of 'crucifixion and torture' in Egypt prison


Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Dublin teenager Ibrahim Halawa, who begins his 25th day on hunger strike in an Egyptian prison today, has said fellow inmates are being tortured and "crucified".

The 19-year-old's health has seriously deteriorated since he began refusing food, said his sister, Somaia.

She told the Herald that his latest letter to his family in Dublin alleges that "experiment- al torture" is being carried out at the prison.

Ibrahim was jailed, aged 17, in August 2013. He was arrested in a crackdown on street protests after the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized power. Today is his 822nd day behind bars.

He and 493 others have been told they face the death penalty if convicted in a mass trial.

The latest date for the trial, which has been adjourned several times, is December 15.

Somaia said Ibrahim is on hunger strike to protest his innocence and will continue refusing food until he is released.

She said he has reported mistreatment throughout his detention, and has been denied medical attention despite suffering a bullet wound to his hand when he was arrested.

Human rights organisation Reprieve said Ibrahim told a caseworker who visited him that some prisoners were being tied up naked in a crucifix position in the prison's halls.

Others had been electrocuted using pools of water to increase the pain, he said.

Ibrahim said he was regularly beaten with rubber bars, and was singled out by one senior guard for particular abuse.

The caseworker said Ibrahim's health appeared to be failing.

In the letter received by his family this week, Ibrahim wrote: "This is the place where experimental torture is practised.

"Words will never do justice to what happens in Egyptian prisons.

"Being in a mass trial will never grant me my freedom. I am not protesting for better conditions but to be released.

"I really want to thank everyone who has supported me, because it is your help that will get me released."

Maya Foa, the director of the death penalty tracking team at Reprieve, said: "Ibrahim Halawa has been through a horrifying ordeal - arrested and tortured as a child, held in deplorable conditions for over two years and now faced with the threat of a mass death sentence.

"The latest reports of the torture meted out in his prison are deeply shocking, and it's utterly clear that his trial alongside 493 other prisoners has precious little to do with justice."

Ms Foa called on the governments of Ireland and the UK to fight tirelessly for Ibrahim's release.

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