Activist Ahmed Doma temporarily halted his hunger strike Saturday until an adequate treatment for his “unbearable stomach ulcers pain” is provided, said activist Nourhan Hefzy, Doma’s wife, on Facebook Monday.
Doma’s “sheer psychological burden” as a result of suspending his strike could only be relieved by the determination of his fellow jailed activists’ to carry on with their “empty stomachs battle,” Nourhan wrote.
More than 85 detainees have gone on a collective hunger strike in Egypt, a figure that appeared in a Tuesday statement by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Sept. 23, but speculated that the number is even higher.
The fact that Doma was “compelled to halt his strike because he was not given a proper medication or even a painkiller is a stain on the authorities, which exploited his illness to pressure him to halt his strike by denying him a suitable health care and going to a hospital,” Nourhan said.
The striking prisoners are protesting against a prolonged pre-trial detention with no indictment, as well as the 2013 Protest Law under which thousands have been jailed. Some activists outside of prison, such as the recently released Mahienour el-Masry and award-winning Mona Seif, are on a hunger strike in solidarity with the striking detainees.
Convicted Doma facing another trial
Doma is serving a three-year jail sentence on grounds of the violence that occurred outside a Cairo court in November 2013. He is also being tried along with 269 codefendants for participating in demonstrations outside the Cabinet in December 2011, where the Institute d’Égypte was torched and 17 protesters were killed.
“The trial is conducted at the police’s home: the Policemen Institute. In the trial, police and military officers are the defendants’ opponents because they are accused of killing and injuring protesters. The location of the court is not neutral,” Mohamed Farouq, lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told The Cairo Post Tuesday.
Of the 269 defendants, nine have not been arrested, 16 are jailed and the rest are released pending the trial, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, whose lawyers are part of Doma’s defense team.
“The defendants inside and outside prison are humiliated by the police when they attend their hearings. You are searched several times before you enter the court, and many of the accused protesters were abused in the process, but the judge refused to document these violations,” Farouq said.
Doma’s lawyers filed two official requests to change the panel of judges deliberating Doma’s case, presided by Judge Mohamed Naguie Shehata. The lawyers say the panel of judges has committed “grave breaches” during the trial, and “used cruelty” with the defendant. One of their requests was rejected Monday.
Shehata is also the judge who sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison for fabricating news in favor of the “terrorist organization” of the Muslim Brotherhood.