Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog, released a statement Tuesday warning of the enforced disappearance and possible torture of hunger-striking “prisoner of conscience” Abdallah ElShamy, whose doctor said he could “die within a few days”.
In support of the detained ElShamy, Amnesty International requested that supporters of ElShamy’s cause “call on Egyptian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of ElShamy,” giving him access to a lawyer and his family; urging his immediate release; and “access to any medical attention he may require,” ordering that officials “refrain from taking any punitive measures against him for his hunger strike”.
Photojournalist Mosa’ab ElShamy warned on Monday that ElShamy, his brother “has been removed from his prison cell” at Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison on 12 May and “taken to an unknown location”.
In a letter smuggled out of prison six days prior to his disappearance, ElShamy wrote of meetings with the Assistant Minister of Prison Affairs, saying: “There was apparent confusion. He was trying to convince me to put an end to my hunger strike, saying that it was ‘a sin’ one time, or that ‘Egypt needed me’ another time. I asked, ‘Egypt needs me to be in prison?’”
At the end of the 30-minute conversation, ElShamy stated: “You know and I know that my detention is to no avail, these are nothing more than arbitrary and groundless decisions.” The prison official ordered him to be kept under “constant surveillance and examination”.
“Although I do not know the reasons behind these two incidents,” ElShamy concluded, “they are indications that victory is imminent.”
He has still not been located.
According to the Amnesty International statement, ElShamy’s weight dropped from 108kg to 73kg.
The Amnesty International statement added: “Prison authorities denied him access to a doctor or adequate medical care. He has also faced torture and other ill-treatment.”
On 11 May, Dr Mohamed Ussama Al Homsi, who reviewed ElShamy’s medical tests, said ElShamy “has started to have impaired liver and kidney function” indicating organ failure, and that he could “die within a few days,” reported Al Jazeera English.
ElShamy, an Al-Jazeera journalist arrested during the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi supporters at Rabaa Square on 14 August 2013, has been detained for nine months without charges. He has been on a full hunger strike for 114 days.
ElShamy said of his detention: “My demands are to bring me to trial, to charge me and prove me guilty, if they have any evidence against me. But they know it’s all a big sham.”
Various social media campaigns have been started to raise awareness regarding ElShamy’s conditions. Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based news service for which ElShamy worked, started the campaign “#FreeAbdallah”. The journalist’s family also created a Facebook page called “#WritetoAbdallah”, on which supporters can write messages that will be delivered to ElShamy in prison.