Urgent Action Toolkit: Wear white for political prisoners in Egypt – #FreeAlaa #FreeThemAll

COP27 has thrown a spotlight on Egypt’s police state, where under Sisi’s repressive regime tens of thousands of people have been detained, and torture, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody are rife. 

The case of Alaa Abd El Fattah, a writer, software developer and activist who is jailed on “terrorism” charges for writing a Facebook post about torture has revealed the horrors of this system to many this week. Following over 200 days on partial hunger strike, Alaa stopped taking all food last week and drank his last liquid on Sunday 6 November as COP27 opened. On 10 November the prison authorities told his mother that Alaa had been subject to “medical intervention with the knowledge of judicial entities”, but they have refused to communicate with his lawyers or family. His sister Sanaa said on Tuesday 8 November: 

Are they force-feeding my brother right now? Is he handcuffed in a bed, put on IVs against his will?” 

Sanaa Seif, sister of political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah

Alaa is a British citizen, but despite the British government’s warm relationship with the Egyptian regime, he has not even been granted access to a consular visit. Sanaa has now been targeted by pro-regime figures who have filed a case against her with the public prosecutor for “spreading false news” and “incitement against the Egyptian state”, after she spoke out at COP27 about what is happening to her brother. Sanaa has already been jailed 3 times previously by the regime for advocating for her brother’s release and the release of other political prisoners. 

Egyptian human rights activists have called on delegates to COP27 and people around the world to wear white in solidarity with political prisoners in Egypt, raising the call not only to free Alaa, but everyone else detained, tortured and persecuted by the regime. 

What you can do: 

  • On Thursday 10 November and during climate justice protests on Saturday 12 November wear white or take a white scarf to show your solidarity with all those facing repression and jail in Egypt. 
  • Print or make a placard with the slogans ‘No climate justice without human rights – Solidarity with political prisoners in Egypt’ #FreeThemAll #FreeAlaa [download here
  • If you are attending a protest on Saturday please read out part of the statement which Alaa’s sister Sanaa made at COP27 on Tuesday. An edited extract is below, and the full speech is here

Sanaa Seif:  

At COP27 the most vulnerable are supposed to negotiate with the most powerful. 

So I want to say that whatever chance my brother has at surviving will come from the people who are vulnerable.

It will come from those paying the price for others’ luxury. 

From those locked into a system they did not choose. 

He’s not in prison because of the Facebook post they charged him with. He’s in prison because he is someone who makes people believe the world can be a better place. He’s someone trying to make the world a better place.

We know that they are happy for him to die, the only thing they care about is that it doesn’t happen while the world is watching.

But the world is watching and it’s not only watching the Egyptian authorities but also other governments, including the UK government and other Western governments complicit in our oppression, who benefit from our oppression. Everyone always talks about how strong the UK and Egypt’s relationship is. Is torturing a dual citizen part of that relationship?

I would like to also remind that my family’s ordeal is an extreme example, but not the only example. There are tens of thousands or political prisoners in Egypt, there are more around the world. Climate justice activities are targeted around the world. We face the same oppression. I’m really thankful for your solidarity.

We have not yet been defeated.”