7 ‘Protest Law’ defendants start hunger strike in NCHR to annul law
Egypt's National Council for Human Rights.

CAIRO: Seven activists accused of organizing a November 2013 protest in started a hunger strike at the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Sunday to demand the annulment of the Protest Law, Gamal Barakat a member of NCHR told The Cairo Post Monday.

The activists were sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia in the case known as the Shura Council incidents and their retrial hearing is scheduled on Wednesday.

The Shura Council case’s protests primarily launched to denounce a new law that prohibits demonstrations without a prior police permit, which was adopted in the same month. This case is considered the first case to apply the Protest law rulings on defendants incarcerated over charges of violating the regulations of the widely condemned law.

Activist Alaa Abdel Fatah and others are among the defendants in the same case and are facing the same charges and sentence.

Yehia Mahmoud, one of the hunger striking activists, told Youm7 that they will disperse their sit-in inside the NCHR if their demands, which are “the annulment of the [Protest] Law and the release of all the activists who were arrested [according to the law],” are achieved.

Mahmoud added that they chose the NCHR for their strike as they “feared from the response of the security authorities if they launched their sit-in in another place.”

The NCHR issued a statement on Sunday saying that its executive committee would convene Monday to listen and discuss the activists’ complaints.

The council had notified the prosecution once the seven activists started their hunger strike, where the head of the appeal prosecution Mazin Yehia visited the sit-in to prove their hunger strike in an official report, according to Shorouq newspaper.

George Ishak, rapporteur of the political and the civil rights committee at the NCHR, told Youm7 that activists’ strike was “surprising” and “does not benefit their case.”

The Deputy Head of NCHR Abdel Ghafar Shukr denied news reports about the detaining the seven activists or hindering their strike saying, “we received them in guest room at the council.”

“We provided them with sit-in supplies from water, saline solutions and medical necessities,” said the Human Rights Expert Nasser Amin, the head of the Complaints Bureau at the NCHR.

Few weeks ago, a number of detained activists started a gradual hunger strike campaign called “Gebna Akherna,” or “We’ve had it up to here,” calling for the release of political detainees who had been arrested for illegally protesting.

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