Sunday 21 January 2018

Irish teenager locked up in Cairo goes on hunger strike

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Joanne Kiernan

An Irish Leaving Cert student imprisoned without charge exactly one year ago today has gone on hunger strike in his Cairo jail cell after a mass trial involving the teenager and 482 other defendants ended in farce last week.

Ibrahim Halawa (18) began his hunger strike in Tora prison last Wednesday after the trial was abandoned before it could begin.

"Ibrahim is on hunger strike, he started on Wednesday," Ibrahim's sister Somaia told the Sunday 

"When my sister visited him, he said he was doing a hunger strike because the situation as it is just cannot continue. He is now only going to drink water."

Tuesday's hearing was stopped after the poor conditions - prisoners were kept 
in a glass court cell where they were unable to hear or see the proceedings - were brought to the attention of the judge, Mahmoud Rashid, who then stormed out of the courtroom.

Tuesday's mass trial was originally scheduled to take place on July 16, but was postponed until last week due to concerns over adequate legal representation for defendants and the lack of space in the court's cells.

This further delay means that Ibrahim's detention will, once again, be extended as the Egyptian authorities go about appointing a new judge to the case.

"Ibrahim didn't even get to be in the cell," Somaia added. "They were bringing them in in smaller groups and calling their names, so Ibrahim didn't see the judge; his name had not been called when the judge left."

Ibrahim, from Firhouse, Co Dublin, was just 17 years old when was arrested last August alongside his three older sisters following a day of protests called by the Muslim Brotherhood against the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.

His sisters, Somaia (28), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21), were released from prison last November and returned to Ireland.

However, Ibrahim, has had his period of detention extended on a number of occasions since.

Sunday Independent

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