Thursday 23 October 2014

Irish teen imprisoned in Egypt goes on hunger strike

Emma Jane Hade

Published 18/08/2014 | 02:30

Ibrahim Halawa
Irish citizens Ibrahim Halawa, with sisters Fatima, Omaima, and Somaia

THE FAMILY of the Irish teenager who is imprisoned in Egypt have said that they will hold the Government responsible if anything happens to him as he goes on hunger strike.

Ibrahim Halawa has been in jail in Cairo for over a year and last Wednesday, the day after the dramatic collapse of the mass trial in which his case was being heard, the young man decided to stop eating in protest.

His sister Somaia Halawa 
explained that the family learned of the 18-year-old's decision on Friday night, after one of her siblings visited him in prison. However, Ms Halawa is confident that the strike will not last longer than a week, as she believes her brother will have been released or transferred by then.

"I am sure it is not going to last for a week. If this continues . . . I'm holding the responsibility to the Irish Government," she said.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that she shared "the concern of his family".

Ms Fitzgerald said that Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan had "been very 
involved in making the case".

"We would be very 
concerned for him, and do everything that we possibly can at an international level and in association with the Egyptian authorities to ensure his eventual release," she added.

The young man, who was imprisoned after protests against the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, was one of 483 defendants involved in last Tuesday's mass trial which was abandoned by the judge as some of the prisoners involved were gathered in the glass cell in the courtroom.

His 28-year-old sister said the family were "very, very worried" for the welfare of the Leaving Certificate student as he was just consuming water, which they believe is not suitable for drinking.

"His freedom has been taken away from him. I am sure that he is mentally affected being in prison for 12 months.

"I don't know how he is coping. He is only drinking water, and it is dirty water. I am not going to let this go," she added. "We've coped with enough."

Last week's trial was originally set for July 16, but was postponed as concerns were raised over the lack of space for the prisoners in the court house. The case faces further delays as a new judge must be appointed.

Irish Independent

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