Egyptian activist, Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a political prisoner, held by the Egyptian military regime of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Alaa has been an activist since 2006 when he and his wife founded an important Egyptian activist blog site. As part of the rebel generation of the Arab Spring, Abd El-Fattah took an active role in the demonstrations to overthrow the 26-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. As a computer programmer, Abd El-Fattah worked tirelessly to spread the news of the movement, using his skills to circumvent the regime’s restriction of internet access. After the fall of the Mubarak regime, he opposed the return of the military to power, and began devoting his attention to what he saw as the greatest threat to human life as a whole — the degradation of the environment through climate destruction. Abd El-Fattah has faced repeated arrest and torture but has never stopped his activism. He was imprisoned from 2014 to 2019, and again in 2019, and has been in prison ever since. He is the most high-profile of the country’s 65,000 political prisoners.
On April 2, he began a hunger strike to protest his being kept in solitary confinement, lack of access to books and exercise, and lack of legal rights. During this time he was only consuming 100 calories a day. However, this last week as many of the world’s government representatives met during the COP 27 United Nations Climate Conference of November 6 to November 18, Alaa began to refuse water and food altogether. According to Alaa:
“If one wished for death, then a hunger strike would not be a struggle. If one were only holding onto life out of instinct, then what’s the point of a strike? If you’re postponing death only out of shame at your mother’s tears, then you’re decreasing the chances of victory … I’ve taken a decision to escalate at a time I see as fitting for my struggle for my freedom and the freedom of prisoners of a conflict they’ve no part in, or they’re trying to exit from; for the victims of a regime that’s unable to handle its crises except with oppression, unable to reproduce itself except through incarceration.”
While pretending to stand for civil liberties and democracy, the U.S. government has supported the Egyptian military dictatorship since 1978 with over $50 billion in military aid and $30 billion in economic assistance. Alaa’s protest is against this regime, and against the gathering of governments at COP 27, who repeatedly refuse to address the climate crisis when it threatens the profits of the capitalist interests they represent.
As of November, 14, Alaa once again began to drink water and has ended his fast, and his family will be allowed to meet with him shortly, to find out his condition and where his struggle stands. Thankfully, Alaa has stopped short of death’s door, and his hunger strike has drawn the attention of the world. He is a fighter against the oppression and climate degradation caused by the capitalist system.
We stand on the side of Alaa Abd El-Fatah and all political prisoners fighting for liberation. Freedom for Alaa Abd El Fatah!