Friday 22 September 2017

TD's plead with Irish man jailed in Egypt to give up hunger strike

Nosayba (left) and Somaia Halawa, sisters of Ibrahim Halawa, in Dublin campaigning for his release
Nosayba (left) and Somaia Halawa, sisters of Ibrahim Halawa, in Dublin campaigning for his release
Incarcerated: Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa is on hunger strike in Cairo
Ibrahim Halawa
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A group of TDs have pleaded with Ibrahim Halawa to end his hunger strike while they visited the Irish citizen's in an Egyptian Prison.

Eight TDs, led by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, met with Mr Halawa for more than an hour today where they also urged him not to give up hope.

Mr Halawa (21) has been in prison for more than three years without trial after being arrested at a Cairo demonstration against the the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013.

The TDs will raise his case with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi tomorrow.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl told Independent.ie that despite the hunger strike, Mr Halawa "looked remarkably well" and was "in good spirits".

Mr Halawa has been on hunger strike intermitently during his lengthy detention

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: "before Christmas he felt unwell and collapsed and came off it [a previous hunger strike] and then went on it again quite recently. Every member of the delegation was at pains to encourage him to desist from that approach."

He said that Mr Halawa has "deep frustration that matters hadn't been resolved".

"He repeatedly said all he wants to do is to return home," Mr Ó Fearghaíl.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who is also on the trip, said: "He’s been to court 17 times and not had a trial" but he said the TDs' message to the young man from Tallaght was "Keep up hope. Don’t give up."

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the delegation expect to meet the president tomorrow.

"We'll be pleading with him to recognise our concern about a young Irish citizen, a child at the time of what has been alleged, and we'll be appealing to him to release him under whatever mechanism he decides to use."

Mr Ryan said Mr Halawa's family "are rightly calling for his return and now the Irish Parliament with it’s single unified voice is saying the same.

"We’re hoping that the Egyptian authorities will be able to make that happen very, very quickly," he added. 

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