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Detained Al-Azhar students begin hunger strikes - Daily News Egypt

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Detained Al-Azhar students begin hunger strikes

A group of detained Al-Azhar students join dozens of detainees in open-ended hunger strikes until release


Twenty-five detained students of Al-Azhar University announced Sunday they would start an open-ended hunger strike to demand their release, according to Freedom for the Brave, an initiative that provides support for detainees.

The students are currently being held in Abu Zaabal Prison, and have been detained since December 2013.

Egyptian detainees have increasingly been using hunger strikes as a protest method against their detentions, which are often carried out without charges.

There are more than 85 detainees currently on hunger strike in Egyptian prisons, according to human rights lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer, who also works with the Freedom for the Brave initiative.

“All the students are facing the same template of fake charges,” said Baqer, adding: “This is what we have gotten used to.”

The majority of students were arrested by security forces inside campuses over the past year.

Baqer said that detainees in different governorates are also due to begin hunger strikes “soon”.

He added that there will be other activists and students from different political groups that will soon announce their hunger strikes in solidarity with the detainees from outside prison.

Several family members of the detained hunger-strikers have already announced open-ended solidarity hunger strikes.

Members of the Doctors’ Syndicate said they would provide the strikers, in and outside the prisons, with physical and medical check-ups and examinations.

The Nadeem Centre for Torture Victims also announced its solidarity with the strikers and said it would provide them with medical check-ups as well.

“This is a battle in which we will resist with hunger strikes,” Baqer said.

American-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Soltan, who was arrested from his home in August 2013, has been on hunger strike for over 225 days, the longest hunger-strike in Egypt at the moment.

Other hunger-strikers, including Hend and Rasha Mounir, who have been on hunger strike since 8 August 2014, have been detained since 16 August 2013. They received life sentences and will continue to be on a hunger-strike until their sentences are repealed, according to Freedom of the Brave.

The two women, both mothers of children under 10, were arrested from a protest in Ramsees Square, two days after security forces killed over 1,000 protestors in their dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in.

Activists Ibrahim Al-Yamany, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Sanaa Seif, Ahmed Zyada, and many others are also on hunger-strikes.

Since the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the state has arrested more than 41,000 people, according to the online database WikiThawra.

Thousands of the detainees are students.

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