While his peers are busy getting ready to graduate from universities all across the country, a young Irish man has described being subjected to “physical and mental torture” in a crowded Egyptian prison.
In a handwritten letter seen by the Irish Examiner, 20-year-old Ibrahim Halawa describes the stark contrast between the lives of his former classmates and his own situation.
“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... while every graduate gets their hair done, I forcibly get my head shaved. While rough white clothes are my uniform, my fellow graduates are dressed in their best outfits,” he writes.
“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, a college I did not know I had applied for when I chose to fight for freedom, a college that kidnapped me from life.”
Ibrahim, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been imprisoned in Egypt since August of 2013 when he was arrested at a protest for then president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi.
Since that time, his mass trial, which he is set to stand along with 420 other individuals, has been postponed 14 times. He is due in court again on October 2. In his most recent letter home, dated September 22, Ibrahim writes that he is currently enduring “life’s toughest conditions”.
Ibrahim’s family say they are extremely concerned for their loved one’s welfare and say Ibrahim has been experiencing very bad chest pains recently. His sister Somaia explains there is a history of extremely serious heart issues in their family, but claims her brother has not been allowed appropriate medical treatment.
“When Ibrahim demanded to see a specialist the prison refused and said they would only bring him to the prison hospital who have inexperienced medical students that have (wrongly) diagnosed many of Ibrahim’s cell mates and given false medication,” said Somaia.
“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.”
However, Somaia admits the response of the Irish Government has, of late, been reassuring.
“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 appreciate the efforts being made with this decree, however, there is a limited time to when it can remain effective,” she said.
“Witnessing the Dáil leaving all their political differences aside and become one hand has greatly affected this campaign and its continues support and pressure will definitely bring Ibrahim back home to finally graduate from college.”
Somaia has urged the Irish Government to increase the level of pressure it is putting on the Egyptian authorities.
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