Somaia Halawa, sister of detained Irish student Ibrahim Halawa, sent us a copy of a letter Ibrahim sent from prison. He was arrested in August 2013 and has been detained in horrific conditions ever since. The Halawa family have been working with Irish MPs to press for justice for Ibrahim.
By Somaia Halawa
As the days get closer to Ibrahim’s court hearing, so are the number of days rising to continue his suffering. For a while Ibrahim has been experiencing severe chest pain, and since in the history of the family there has been serious illness from heart issues including his father, a doctor also detained with Ibrahim explained that this is most likely the reason for his suffering. When Ibrahim demanded to see a specialist the prison refused and said they would only bring him to the prison hospital, staffed by inexperienced medical students who have diagnosed many of Ibrahim’s cell mates before wrongly and given false medication causing their death within prison. Ibrahim only wanted to see a specialist and because of this guards went in the cell to shave Ibrahim’s hair as a means of mental torture. When Ibrahim refused, he was beaten and forced to shave his hair off. Ibrahim was forced to experience the worst means of physical and mental torture.
Yet despite this suffering, he still remembers how this year he was supposed to be celebrating his graduation from college. With limited resources Ibrahim was only able to talk and describe his dreams using pen and paper, he writes:
“Today has finally come, my graduation day, the day I have longed for. The day my parents invested their whole lives in to see me reach. It’s the day while every graduate gets their hair done, but I forcibly get my head shaved. While my rough white clothes are my uniform, my fellow graduates are dressed in their best outfits. Today while every graduate throws their graduation hat in the sky to come down with the long waiting dream, I don’t see the sky because I’m enrolled in a different college
This is a college I did not know I had applied for when I chose to fight for freedom, a college that kidnapped me from life to teach me the principles of real life, a college full of lessons.
The first lesson is that I should have appreciated small pleasures in life that previously passed by unnoticed. Simple things such as the burning sunlight that would reflecting on my book to light my face up or the morning breeze finding its way through my lungs.
Striving with life’s toughest conditions was another lesson. Being forced to share with 30 human beings 24/7 in a dormitory where my sleeping area is 35cm.
In this college I’m obliged to live with a broad diversity of inmates from presidential consultants and college professors to illiterate criminals which taught me to see the real human being behind every social rank.
I have learned that absolutism is an invalid way to judge humans, humanity is all about relativism. It is a college where the hardest subject is finding the forgiveness, as I must say as a freedom fighter I never became a revenge hunter.
After all these years my oppressor is yet not convinced to let me graduate from his prison and go home. For others it’s graduation night out, while for me it’s graduation lights out.”
Ibrahim Halawa 22/09/2016
Ibrahim’s letter leaves no room for more to be said, however it has been 35 days since the Presidential decree of law 140 was submitted for Ibrahim, after three years of campaigning for Ibrahim’s freedom this is our biggest hope to return Ibrahim home soon, we greatly appreciate the efforts being made with this decree however there is a limited time to when this decree can remain effective. Witnessing the members of the Irish parliament, the Dail, leaving all their political difference aside and become one hand has greatly affected this campaign and their continued support and pressure will definitely bring Ibrahim back home to fulfil his dream and finally graduate in college. It is time for the Irish government to increase the level of pressure so that decree is as effective as it should be, there was 600 people released last week from a presidential pardon yet Ibrahim was not one of them.
What you can do:
- Find out more about the campaign for Ibrahim Halawa on Facebook
Letter and statement edited by Egypt Solidarity Initiative for clarity