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Seven local NGOs release letter demanding medical treatment for hunger striking detainee

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Groups say Egyptian government’s refusal to send Mohamed Soltan to hospital is contrary to UN laws

Protesters rally in support of Al Jazeera journalists Abdullah al-Shami and Mohammed Sultan, who were detained by Egyptian authorities, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, June 1, 2014.  (Photo by Ali Omar)

Protesters rally in support of Al Jazeera journalists Abdullah al-Shami and Mohammed Sultan, who were detained by Egyptian authorities, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, June 1, 2014.
(Photo by Ali Omar)

Seven local NGOs released a statement Tuesday in support of hunger striking detainee Mohamed Soltan, requesting that prison authorities admit the Egyptian-American to Qasr Al-Eini hospital for potentially life-saving treatment.

The seven rights groups, including The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, The Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights, and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, said in their statement that they hold the Egyptian government responsible for any harm that befalls Soltan.

“In the unfortunate event that he succumbs to his condition, the undersigned organisations would hold the Egyptian government fully responsible for his death for intentionally refusing to provide him with the necessary medical care outside the prison walls,” the statement read.

The organisations also noted that Egyptian authorities’ ongoing refusal to grant Soltan medical assistance is contrary to United Nations guidelines on proper treatment of detainees.

“In contravention to the law and to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners approved by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, for months, the government has been ignoring repeated pleas by Mohamed Soltan’s family, lawyers and human rights organisations for him to be transferred to a hospital to receive adequate medical health care.”

Mohamed Soltan has been on a full hunger strike since 26 January to protest his ongoing detention. He was arrested from his home shortly following the Rabaa sit-in dispersal on 14 August.

He has been consuming only sugar water and salt water for the last 133 days.

“Doctors who examined Mohamed Soltan on 9 June noted a severe drop in all his vital signs including pulse rate and blood pressure. Medical testing also determined the presence of blood clots in his lungs, and concluded that he is suffering from poisoning due to the disproportionately high level of drugs in his bloodstream,” the statement read.

“Unless immediately treated, he is in imminent danger of bleeding to death and/or slipping in a coma.”

Although Hanaa Soltan, sister of Mohamed Soltan, said on Tuesday that her brother was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Al-Qasr Al-Eini Hospital, when reached for comment, Al-Qasr Al-Eini hospital denied that Soltan was a patient and said that the physician who signed his report on Monday was not listed.

The Ministry of Interior, however, confirmed Wednesday that Soltan was receiving treatment at the hospital.

The seven-member statement concluded by also condemning “continual detention and denial of necessary medical care” of Abdullah Elshamy, an Al-Jazeera journalist also arrested on 14 August.

Elshamy, who was covering the violent dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in, has been on a full hunger strike since 21 January.


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