Activists Laila Soueif and her daughter, Mona Seif, have vowed to continue the open-ended hunger strike and sit-in in front of the Cairo High Court. The move to continue the hunger strike follows the imprisonment of her daughter, Sanaa, and son, Alaa.
“The water strike was over since Thursday, but we intend to continue the hunger strike, until the legal procedures are over and both Alaa and Sanaa are set free,” said Laila Soueif.
On Sunday 26 October, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Sanaa Seif and 22 other defendants to three years in prison for violating the Protest Law and using violence with the aim of terrorising citizens.
Laila Soueif, mathematics professor at Cairo University and founder of the 9 March Professors’ Movement for Universities Independence, started a sit-in at the High Court with her daughter Mona on Wednesday, protesting the verdict.
“Clearly, the verdict is unfair; it did not take into account the variety of testimonies, and the evidences presented by the prosecution which did not confirm the counts,” Soueif added.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a statement on Wednesday in support of the family’s hunger strike initiative. They also condemned the Protest Law, saying that it will be revoked sooner or later, because it violates the constitutional right of peaceful protesting.
In June, Abdel Fattah and 24 others were also sentenced in absentia to 15 years imprisonment, paying an EGP 100,000 fine and put under police observation after release, on counts of violating the Protest Law. They were charged, one day after its ratification, over acquiring weapons during a protest, illegal assembly, blocking roads and attacking a police officer and stealing his radio.
The Cairo Appeal Court later released Abdel Fattah on bail after the judge stepped down from the case. Only one month later, Abdel Fattah was once again behind bars.
The family is currently on an open-ended hunger strike, started by Abdel Fattah on 19 August, followed by Sanaa 10 days later, and then Laila and Mona in early September.
The family is famous for its political activism. Sanaa Seif, 20, worked as an editor for the Oscar nominated Egyptian movie “The Square”, which documented the multiple phases of the Egyptian revolution.
Alaa, 32, blogger and activist since 2005, is often dubbed as the “detainee of all eras”. He has a long history of detentions under different authorities, including an arrest in 2006, during Mubarak’s rule for organising protests against the judiciary. During the transition period in 2011 after the 25 January Revolution, he was charged with involvement in a “terrorist plot”. During Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s one-year rule, he was arrested on charges of insulting Islam.
Mona Seif, 28, launched the civil rights campaign “No Military Trials for Civilians”. According to the campaign, there have been approximately 12,000 cases of civilians who were tried in front of a military court from the January 2011 uprisings until August 2011.
The father of the arrested activists, Ahmed Seif El-Islam, passed away on 27 August at the age of 63, while both Alaa and Sanaa were in prison.
El-Islam was himself a renowned human rights defender and the co-founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre. In his career as a lawyer, he took on many court cases related to torture and human rights abuses.
El-Islam was arrested and tortured by State Security back in 1983 for his political activism, and served five years in prison under the Mubarak regime.
Alaa, the eldest son, and Sanaa, his youngest daughter, were allowed to attend their father’s funeral and memorial service, before Alaa was taken back to prison and Sanaa to the detention facility.