Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ibrahim Halawa 'lost consciousness four times' in jail hunger strike - sister

Somaia Halawa, sister of Ibrahim Halawa, at the announcement of a postcard campaign for Ibrahim. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Somaia Halawa, sister of Ibrahim Halawa, at the announcement of a postcard campaign for Ibrahim. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Eimear Rabitte

The sister of a Dublin teenager held in an Egyptian prison since August 2013, is beginning a postcard campaign to highlight her brother's suffering as he faces another birthday behind bars.

Ibrahim Halawa, charged with taking part in a banned protest in Cairo in July 2013, will turn 20 on December 13, two days before his hearing.

It is the 10th trial date which has been organised since his detention.

Somaia Halawa said the aim behind the postcard is to mark her brother's birthday more than two years after he was arrested at the age of 17.

Praising the support she and her family have received in Ireland, Ms Halawa said she hopes the postcards will make it into the prison and provide a boost to her brother, who is in a severely weakened state as a result of a hunger strike.

"He is starting to show signs of suffering now," Ms Halawa said of her brother, who has been taking part in the hunger strike since October 21.


She explained how her brother is so weak he had "lost consciousness four of five times" last Thursday when his mother and a representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs visited him in prison.

"He can't take anymore," Ms Halawa told the Herald.

"He hopes something can be done before the trial," she said.

The trial, set to take place this month, was postponed once again after two of the 420 defendants at the mass trial were not present, apparently for medical reasons.

The postcards, with an Irish stamp, will be sent to Ibrahim Halawa at Wadi el-Natrun prison via the Irish Ambassador to Egypt, Damien Cole, at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

Ms Halawa is hoping that members of the public get behind the campaign by placing a stamp on the postcard and sending them to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The postcard wishes Ibrahim a happy birthday and lets him know the sender is thinking of him.

The message is written in both English and Arabic, to allow a greater possibility of Ibrahim receiving it.

"His prison guards don't have English so the message is printed in Arabic to maximise the possibility that they will get to him," said Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, who visited the prison earlier this year.

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