Appealing for the sympathy of the public and attention of the officials, Ayman Nour, leader of El-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, continues his hunger strike for an eighth day – lying in a hospital room in Tora Mazraa Prison – protesting his temporary detention amid warnings of his appointed physicians and appeals from his wife.
Nour, a former runner-up in presidential and parliamentary elections, was accused in January of last year of forging 1986 signatures out of 2000 needed by law to form a legitimate political party. Nour, who has been in the limelight ever since, denied the accusations.
The former lawyer,who cynical voices in the National Democratic Party often call “America’s sweetheart, may face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison pending forgery case. The courts are expected to deliver their verdict on December 24.
One of Nour’s defense attorneys, Amir Salem told The Daily Star Egypt that the hunger strike is not meant to affect the course of the trial in any way, and it is not expected to sway the court s decision. “He is only protesting the injustice and the humiliation he is facing, explained Salem.
According to the attorney,the two physicians who are following Nour’s medical condition insist that the politician is in serious risk of slipping into a coma. Nour is diabetic and went on a hunger strike for seven consecutive days, before he allowed the physicians on Saturday evening to give him fluid replacements to stabilize his condition.
Gamilla Ismail, Nour’s wife and party spokesperson, said Nour only accepted “a cup of tea Sunday morning, but is insistent on maintaining the food ban until the forthcoming trial. Ismail said that meanwhile she would “do her best to get a response to the request [of releasing Nour].
Salem, along with El-Ghad Party, had presented a petition last week to the prosecutor s office calling for a legal investigation into Nour’s hunger strike. I threatened to sit in the office until they succumb to my request.
Fortunately, they agreed to send a legal committee, accompanied by an appointed medical team, to meet [Nour] in prison and they officially reported his strike and the reasons that lead to it.
Nour not only went on strike to object his imprisonment, a mere 20 days before the fervently awaited final ruling in his forgery case, but also to complain of the “ill-treatment he received during his detention, said Hisham Kassem, El-Ghad deputy leader and human rights activist.
He is still on trial and he is not officially detained, “Nevertheless at the Tora Mazraa Prison, they let him fill out applications that only convicts and sentenced prisoners are supposed to fill, said Kassem.”This act is outright degradation in its own right.
Several national human rights and prisoners’ rights groups have issued reports concerning the Nour incident and calling for his “immediate release, however, there has been no official government response as of date of publication.
“We want the public opinion to support Nour’s cause, said Hafez Abu Saada of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights.
Nour’s cause is also supported by the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary, who deemed his upcoming trial “lacking many guarantees of justice and fairness.
Human Rights Center for Assistance of Prisoners also issued a petition bound for the general prosecutor and Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly. Mohammad Zarie, founder of the center, attempted to visit Nour in person. However, according to Zarie, his health condition was critical and he could not accept any visits.
In its petition the center recounted the alleged “disgraceful detainment conditions that Nour was subjected to.According to the report, Nour’s covers and mattress were taken from him and he was forced to “sleep on the floor, leading him to suffer from physical and emotional pain . He was given the worst of treatment as the rest of the prisoners watched.
Zarie claimed that the “demeaning conduct violated international human rights laws.
Commenting on Nour’s outgoing trial, Human Rights Watch’s Deputy Director in the Middle East Joe Stork said in a report published earlier this month that the trial “like the violence against voters in the parliamentary elections, is a terrible advertisement for President Mubarak’s supposed reform agenda, and for Egypt’s judiciary. In the courtroom, as at the voting booths, there is little tolerance for challenges to the ruling party’s hegemony.
Nour’s controversial party El-Ghad Party performed poorly in all three rounds of the latest parliamentary elections. El-Ghad had alleged complaints of forgery and corruption, averring in their weekly newspaper “a conspiracy against their candidates – Nour topping the list.
Nour’s defense is often backed by the United States State Department and international human rights organizations that on different occasions have linked Nour’s case to the current state of political freedom and reform in Egypt.