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Soas protestors

Photograph: Chloe Rosser

Activists from the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) stage 1,000 hours of hunger in solidarity with Egyptian detainees

The 21st September saw the start of a new round of hunger strikes in Egypt. The group ‘Journalists against the Protest Law’ commenced their two day hunger strike, otherwise known as the ‘Battle of Empty Stomachs’, in opposition to the controversial protest law which has been in place in the country since November 2013. Their hunger strikes are in solidarity with around 90 Egyptian detainees who have been unfairly held captive in prisons in Egypt as a result of the protest law. Now, activists in Egypt and beyond are banding together to take part in rolling hunger strikes in unity with the prisoners.

We, the students of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London have now joined the international campaign. Our initiative is to reach 1000 hours of hunger, through a series of 24 hour strikes. We have been raising awareness on campus and online through the Egypt Solidarity Initiative’s website, and staged an ‘Empty Plates Protest’ on Thursday 25th September outside the university’s main building.

We are working to draw attention to the appalling conditions in which prisoners are being detained, often without charge or trial. Activist and detainee Mohamed Soltan began his hunger strike in retaliation to the unjust and extreme punishment to which he has been subject since August 2013. Soltan has not eaten now for nearly 250 days, and according to Amnesty International, is at risk of heart failure because Egyptian authorities are denying him sufficient medical care.

The Protest Law, which has been described as repressive and which imposes restrictions on the freedoms of the Egyptian people, has seen around 40,000 activists jailed since August 2013. Sharanya Gopinathanm (SOAS) commented:

“Worldwide, we see governments suppressing dissent of any form with crushing and disproportionate force... solidarity of any form from any part of the world is essential to stop this global trend and to give hope to activists worldwide.”

The international campaign will continue until justice is served and the detainees are released. For more information, or to join the campaign (this can be done anywhere in the world!) please go to the Egypt Solidarity Initiative site and sign up on the online form.

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