80% of the Detainees in Scorpion’s Prison on Hunger Strike

A rights group has stated that Some 80 % of detainees held in Egypt’s Al-Aqrab (Scorpion) Prison began a hunger strike in September to protest human rights violations against them.

In a statement on its official Facebook page, the Association of the Prisoners’ Families said that among other complaints, prison authorities had denied detainees family visits for more than a year.

It noted that as a result “the prisoners were forced to eat the prison food which caused them to be poisoned more than once”,adding that the prison administration has also prevented them from exercising; some have not seen the sun for six months.

The association accused the prison administration of failing to provide the prisoners with health care, as most of them are elderly and chronically ill.

It also warned that the prisoners were dying slowly while “some have been held in solitary confinement for nearly four years”.

In fact, there is no official data on the number of detainees in the prison, but Egyptian human rights activist Ezzat Ghoneim said  that “the number is between 1,000 and 1,200 prisoners, while the other inmates are held on criminal charges”.

In recent months, complaints from the prisoners’ families have increased.

According to the prisoners’ relatives, the detainees including Muslim Brotherhood leaders launched a hunger strike in late September to protest ill-treatment.

No comment has been issued by the Egyptian interior ministry.

Since the military coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s  first democratically elected president,the Egyptian authorities have engaged in a widespread campaign of arrests targeting a broad spectrum of political opponents.

Between Morsi’s overthrow and May 2014, the Egyptian authorities arrested at  least 41,000 people, according to one documented count, and 26,000 more may have been arrested since the beginning of 2015, lawyers and human rights researchers say. The government itself has admitted to making nearly 34,000 arrests.

In September 2016,the Human Right Watch (HRW) wrote a report titled,”We Are in Tombs:Abuses in Egypt’s Scorpion Prison” about human rights violations at Scorpion Prison. According to the HRW  80-page report,the prison’s staff beat inmates severely, isolate them in cramped “discipline” cells, cut off access to families and lawyers, and interfere with medical treatment.

The report documented cruel and inhuman treatment by officers of Egypt’s Interior Ministry that probably amounts to torture in some cases and violates basic international norms for the treatment of prisoners.