At 2 o’clock on the morning of Sunday August 17, Alaa visited his father, Ahmad Seif, in the ICU Unit of Qasr el-Eini hospital, after Seif had become unconscious.
Three days earlier we’d been on our latest visit to Alaa in Tora Prison. His father’s health at that point had been relatively good. Since then there had been no way for us to inform him that his father had gone into crisis. And so Alaa arrived at the hospital in the small hours of Sunday happy to be visiting, carrying flowers, looking forward to talking with his father. He found him unconscious in an ICU cubicle.
That spectacle crystalised matters for him. By the end of the few-minute visit Alaa had decided that he would withdraw co-operation with the unjust and absurd sitution he had been put in – even if this cost him his life.
Alaa informed us of his decision when we went to see him next day at Tora. And it has been hard for us, his family. But, ultimately, we understand Alaa’s anger and his frustration, his need to inject something real into the tragic farce he has been made to live. Alaa’s decision is proactive and positive; his action reflects the seriousness of what is happening in his personal life. His action tries to match his pain. .
Alaa is in prison for the third time since the beginning of the revolution of January 2011. Each time, the authorities – whichever they were – have charged him with ridiculous, invented crimes. This has cost him a great deal: the authorities have deprived him of being with his wife at the birth of their first child, they separated him from his family, they impeded his professional career in the software company he established. Then they imprisoned his youngest sister, Sanaa, because she demanded – on the Ettehadeyya march June 21 – his freedom and the freedom of all those unjustly detained. And now, finally, they have done that which he cannot bear: they prevented him from being at the side of his father, to support him as he went into open-heart surgery, and they prevented him from visiting until his father fell unconscious.
We, the family and friends of Alaa Abd El-Fattah, hold the authorities responsible for depriving Laila Soueif and Ahmad Seif from the support of their son at this most difficult and dangerous moment in their lives, and we hold them responsible for the safety and well-being of Alaa himself.
Alaa is now on full hunger strike, starting the evening of Monday 18th August and continuing until he achieves his freedom.
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