The family of a jailed British-Egyptian writer in Cairo say world leaders will have “blood on their hands” if they fail to take action to secure his release at COP27.

Sanaa and Mona Seif, along with other family members, began their sit-in on October 18 in Whitehall and intend to stay until the COP27 conference.

The sisters are protesting the imprisonment of their brother – a writer and pro-democracy activist – who has been held behind bars in Egypt for most of the past decade.

In December this year, El-Fattah was sentenced to five years behind bars, after being accused of spreading false news.

The family, who spoke by telephone to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday and to North Africa Minister Lord Tarim Ahmad on Thursday, said they would end their sit-in as their brother was intensifying his hunger strike.

Sanaa said: “You are going to be in the same country as a dying British citizen.

“And if you don’t show that you care, it will be interpreted as a green light to kill him. My brother can be saved.”

Addressing world leaders heading into COP27, which begins on Sunday, Sanaa added: “If you don’t save it, you have blood on your hands.”

She said she was “not sure” the government had a plan and called on the media to “keep this story alive”.

The family will hold a vigil in Downing Street on Sunday and Sanaa said she would attend COP27 herself to campaign for her release.

Image:
Sanaa (left) and Mona Seif, the pro-democracy activist’s sisters

Mona Seif also announced that her brother will be stepping up his hunger strike in prison, including a water strike as COP27 unfolds in Egypt.

“Alaa is not desperate to die,” she said.

“These are the actions of a man desperate to end the ordeal he has been sucked into for nine years and desperate to be reunited with his family.

“We sincerely believe that if Alaa does not survive the COP in Egypt, if Alaa is not released then, Alaa will die in prison.”

Mona Seif (left), the sister of writer Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a British-Egyptian activist jailed in Egypt, at a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London.  Picture date: Tuesday October 18, 2022.
Image:
Mona Seif (left) during a sit-in outside the Foreign Office in London on October 18

The majority of the living winners of the novel’s literature prize recently wrote an open letter addressing world leaders, demanding the release of El-Fattah along with the other “thousands of political prisoners” held in Egyptian jails.

The plea calls on COP27 participants to use their platform to “say the names of prisoners, call for their freedom and invite Egypt to turn a page and become a true partner in a future that respects life and human dignity”. .

Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists, environmental groups and human rights defenders, are imprisoned in Egypt for “terrorism”, according to Human Rights Watch.

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