Ibrahim Halawa: Government inaction is damning

By Sami El-Sayed

On 3 April, news emerged of the continuing deterioration of Ibrahim Halawa’s health. One of over 40,000 political prisoners in Egypt, Ibrahim has been held for over three years without trial by the el-Sisi dictatorship, with his trial delayed for the 20th time in March of this year.

Halawa – an Irish citizen – has been on hunger strike in protest at his inhumane treatment. The damage this has done to his body is potentially irreparable, and Irish doctors sent by the embassy in Cairo to assess Halawa’s health, have recommended his immediate release to Ireland on humanitarian grounds. Despite this, the Egyptian government continues to deny that Ibrahim is on hunger strike and continues to maintain that he is in fine health.

On the contrary, Halawa is suffering from severe dehydration and low blood sugar levels. His imminent death is a serious possibility.

Kenny echoing el-Sisi lies

This situation is the culmination of years of inaction by the government. While Enda Kenny has written a letter to President el-Sisi, asking for Halawa’s release, it should be remembered that to bring the government even this far has required years of campaigning by Halawa’s family and his supporters.

While sending the letter, Enda Kenny qualified his appeal, acknowledging the alleged reality that el-Sisi’s hands are tied and that it is not within his constitutional power to secure Ibrahim’s release. Ignoring that Egypt is going through a period of dictatorship under President el-Sisi, making the ‘separation of powers’ a farce, this is simply factually incorrect information. Under Law 140, the Egyptian President has the right to intervene and transfer defendants to their home countries even well in advance of trial.

Should Ibrahim die prior to his release, two things will be abundantly clear. Firstly, that this would be the deliberate torturing and killing of an Irish citizen by the Egyptian government, and secondly that the Irish state would be complicit in this act, having failed to take every step necessary to secure Ibrahim Halawa’s release.