Since June 30, 2013, the military coup regime in Egypt deliberately pursued a systematic and brutal policy targeting its political opponents, especially symbols of patriotic work in the country. This policy has ominously evolved, from arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to extrajudicial killings and politicized judicial decisions against thousands of opponents in trials that fail all standards of fair trial.
Moreover, junta authorities throw dissidents in dungeons, prisons, police stations and other places of detention unfit for human accommodation, not to mention the extreme ill-treatment political prisoners suffer in all jails across Egypt. The worst and most infamous of these being Aqrab Prison – part of the Tora high-security prison complex, also known as the political prisoners’ graveyard or Egypt’s Guantanamo.
Indeed, the infamous Aqrab is a harsh high-security prison, one of the most notorious forts of torture in Egypt. Detainees held in Aqrab are subjected to the worst treatment, which includes the following:
First: Terrible food (extremely poor quality and quantity).
Second: Tremendously overcrowded cells.
Third: Almost total absence of health care for prisoners.
Fourth: No medical specialists.
Fifth: Intransigence and ill-treatment of families during visits.
Sixth: Torture inside the prison.
Seventh: Slow death inside the prison.
This policy led to the death of a number of prisoners, including Dr. Farid Ismail, member of parliament; Mohamed Falahgy, member of parliament; Dr. Tarek Ghandour; Essam Derbala, engineer; Imad Hassan; Morgan Salem. Hundreds of detainees are now at risk of death in Aqrab Prison because coup authorities deliberately prevent them from getting essential medical treatment.
Lately, the situation worsened to the extent that Major General Hassan Al-Sohagi, Assistant Minister of Interior for the prison sector, personally made death threats to political detainees (on February 2016), saying that he had a Carte Blanche to get rid of them, which forced prisoners to start a hunger-strike on February 17.
Now, Aqrab political prisoners (more than 200) continue their hunger-strike, although Aqrab Prison administration have not heeded the strike at all. Furthermore, coup prison authorities have so far ignored strikers’ essential medical needs, and even proceeded to punish them by preventing visits altogether.