CAIRO: Maikel Nabil, a blogger and activist imprisoned by a military court since late March, has entered day 41 of his open-ended hunger strike.
“Death is better than living in an oppressive country,” Maikel told his brother Mark the last time he saw him on his 26th birthday on Saturday.
Fearing that Maikel might die as his health deteriorates, Mark told Daily News Egypt his older brother might not live to make it to his court appeal on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
After being sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting” the army and “spreading lies” about Egypt’s armed forces, Maikel has refused food and is only drinking water.
Mark said Maikel went from weighing 60 kilograms to 47 since he went on hunger strike.
Currently approaching kidney failure, Maikel is having trouble speaking and walking. He has also vowed to stop drinking water if his upcoming court appeal does not go in his favor.
“Maikel just wants to be treated fairly,” Mark told DNE. “Several other activists in the country have been summoned for similar accusations, he feels that he has been mistreated with such a harsh sentence.”
“We tried to convince him to eat something at least so he can make it to his appeal on Tuesday, but he refuses,” said Mark.
According to Mark, Maikel currently cannot stand up, he needs a wheelchair to move, and he cannot speak properly.
“Even though he can barely move, he always attempts to stand up for a few seconds to say hello to us,” said Mark.
Due to the unsanitary conditions of the prison Maikel is currently kept in, Mark says his brother has also developed scabies.
As Maikel enters a near-death condition, Mark said that his family submitted several requests to the ruling military council, the de facto president, and head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy, the interior ministry, as well as the Prosecutor General’s office in order to transfer Maikel to a hospital.
“He is dying so we asked that we take him to a hospital where we would pay all of his expenses but all our requests were refused.”
“After our revolution, we can’t have another Khaled Saeid,” Mark said.
Khaled Saeid, whose death was seen as a trigger for the January 25 uprising that eventually ousted the former regime, was a 28-year-old Alexandrian who died in June 2010 after being beaten to death by plain-clothed police.
Maikel has been an active blogger for several years, and is known for his sharp criticism of the army and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
After his arrest in late March, however, he was sentenced to three years in prison and fined LE 200.
In accordance with his pacifist views, Maikel had previously refused to serve in the military, which is mandatory in Egypt.
During the Mubarak days, the young activist was also an active blogger who openly discussed his views about the army as well as his stance towards Israel, which he believes has the right to exist in the region.
“Maikel has always been blunt with his views,” said Tarik Salama, a human rights activist and Maikel’s friend.
“If he is being scrutinized for his stance against Israel, then we must realize that the Egyptian government has signed a pact with Israel in 1979 and they too believe in normalization [with the Israeli state].”
“Maikel has always had this opinion on the army and Israel, he’s always been a pacifist, why is this happening to him now?”
Salama pointed out that the accusations against Maikel were petty and that everyone should have the right to free expression as long as they are not harming society.
“Everyone should be able to express their views without fear of arrest or persecution,” said Salama.
He added that Maikel’s case is unacceptable, especially after the January 25 uprising, which called for democracy, freedom of speech, and justice for all of Egypt’s people.
Maikel is among an estimated 12,000 civilians who have been subjected to military trials after Egypt’s uprising.