On November 6, 2022, Egyptian activist, blogger, software developer and political prisoner Alaa Abdel-Fatah has stopped an extreme no-water hunger strike to demand his immediate release from prison. 

Alaa started his hunger strike more than 215 days ago. He’s now on a zero calorie strike, escalating from his previous 100 calories per day strike. On November 6th, before the start of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, Alaa has stopped drinking water. With this critical decision, Alaa is facing two options in the coming days: freedom or death.

Alaa Abdel Fattah has played a key role in technology and political activism in Egypt since the early 2000s. His powerful and emotive blogging played a part in catalysing Egypt’s 2011 uprising. As a group working towards a freer and more equitable internet, Meedan stands in solidarity with Alaa. We are deeply concerned about his life amid continuous negligence, recklessness and arbitrariness shown by the Egyptian authorities despite public outcry and continuous calls by human rights organizations and lawmakers worldwide. 

We urge you to take action:

  • Sign this petition to demand the immediate release of Alaa and Egypt’s prisoners of conscience
  • Take part in the global solidarity week online by tweeting and sharing with the hashtags #FreeAlaa, #SaveAlaa, #FreeThemAll, and #COP27
  • Rally friends and colleagues at your workplace to join the cause of Egypt’s prisoners of conscience 
  • Contribute to local efforts that guarantee Alaa’s safety, freedom and return to his family and loved ones. If you live in the UK, write to your MP and request that they pressure James Cleverly, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs, to demand Alaa’s immediate release  

Human rights and civil society organizations, UN bodies, lawmakers, academics and activists are also demanding the immediate release of Alaa.

More than 300 organizations, including Climate Action Network International (CAN) and Greenpeace, and more than 800 individuals, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, signed the petition calling on Egyptian authorities to release journalists and political prisoners in the country ahead of COP27.

Egypt is hosting COP27, which will take place from 6-18 November 2022. Human Rights Watch declared that Egypt's hosting of COP27 comes after years of intensifying restrictions on human rights and environmental groups in the country, amounting to one of the harshest government clampdowns in decades.

Background information 

In December 2021, Alaa was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for spreading "false news undermining national security." 

56 US lawmakers wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden ahead of COP27, asserting that Egypt's climate action is undercut by its refusal to allow the meaningful participation of environmental and civil society groups, activists, and those most impacted by the climate crisis.

The lawmakers urged US officials to push for the "immediate and unconditional release" of those jailed for exercising free speech, and specifically raise the cases of activists Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Douma, human rights lawyer Mohamed el Baqer, blogger Mohamed “Oxygen” Ibrahim, former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Seif and Safwan Thabet and environmentalist Ahmed Amasha.

Finally, UN experts are alarmed by restrictions imposed on civil society ahead of the climate summit. A statement released last month by the UN High Commission for Human Rights warned that "arrests and detention, NGO asset freezes and dissolutions and travel restrictions against human rights defenders have created a climate of fear for Egyptian civil society organizations to engage visibly at the COP27."