Anti-Austerity Alliance calls for governent to secure release of Ibrahim Halawa

The Government has not done enough to free Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa from Egyptian imprisonment and must make attempts to secure his release “immediately”, according to members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.
Anti-Austerity Alliance calls for governent to secure release of Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim, a 19-year-old student from Firhouse, Co Dublin, was jailed two years and three months ago after he took part in a protest in Cairo.

He was one of hundreds of people arrested during the demonstrations, during which it is estimated Egyptian police killed around 800 protestors.

“Ibrahim Halawa has been in prison for over two years without trial. He is recognised by human rights groups like Amnesty International and Reprieve as a prisoner of conscience and they say that his life is in danger,” said Paul Murphy, who is TD for the Halawa family’s constituency of Dublin South West.

“The Irish Government’s actions have been almost meaningless. They have sought to get him a separate trial. They need to recognise that this military regime will not just give one person a separate trial.”

Earlier this week, in a letter written by Ibrahim and sent to the Irish Examiner by his sister Somaia, the teenager revealed he had embarked on a hunger strike.

At the time of writing, November 9, Ibrahim had already been 20 days without food.

“With the news that Ibrahim has gone on hunger strike and has been on it for a number of weeks, the onus is now on the Irish Government, and specifically Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to directly intervene with the Egyptian president and demand that he is immediately released and returned to Ireland,” said Mr Murphy.

“The Government need to take a hard stance against this dictatorship which is jailing journalists and protestors in mass trials. Ibrahim Halawa should not be facing any trial for taking part in a protest. The Taoiseach should be putting this to the Egyptian president now before there is deterioration in his health.”

The TD was backed by fellow AAA members Joe Higgins and Ruth Coppinger who also urged the Government to immediately intervene on Ibrahim’s behalf.

In his letter, Ibrahim revealed the horrific conditions he is experiencing in prison and accuses his jailors of “experimental torture”.

“I have been thrown in a place that is in no way humanitarian to live in,” he writes. “The very same place, a lot suffer and no one hears their cry. This is the place where experimental torture is practised. This is the place once you’re in there is no out.

“I really want to thank everyone who has supported me because it is your help that will get me released,” he writes. “I do not believe in the Egyptian judicial system but I believe in hope and my hope is to make it back home one day. Alive.”

Since his imprisonment in August 2013, Ibrahim’s mass trial has been postponed nine times. He is due in court again on December 15.

“There are many laws to prove my right to be released or handed back to my country but the judicial system in Egypt is very corrupt, Ibrahim writes. “Being in a mass trial will never grant me my freedom.”

Ibrahim’s family are very concerned for his welfare.

“Without constant political pressure, Ibrahim will spend the rest of his life in prison,” said sister Somaia. “Our Government needs to set a time limit for allowing the farce judicial process to continue.”

Meanwhile, international human rights organisation Reprieve, which is assisting Ibrahim, revealed details of torture at the teenager’s prison.

They claim a caseworker was told, by Ibrahim, that some prisoners were being tied naked in crucifix positions in the halls, while others had been electrocuted in pools of water.

Ibrahim added he was regularly beaten with rubber bars and was singled out by one senior guard for particular abuse.

“The latest reports of the torture meted out in his prison are deeply shocking and it’s utterly clear that his trial alongside 493 other prisoners has precious little to do with justice,” said Reprieve’s death penalty team director Maya Foa.

“Governments that are closely allied to Egypt, including the UK and Ireland, must urge Sisi’s Government to release Ibrahim and the many others like him.”

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