Egyptian pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad escalates hunger strike to thirst strike

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War Resisters' International calls for release of unjustly imprisoned blogger

On Tuesday, 23 August 2011, imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad began a hunger strike in protest against his continued imprisonment, and delays in dealing with his appeal. Today, one week later, he escalated his hunger strike and now also refuses to drink. In his declaration of hunger strike from 23 August 2011, he wrote that he had decided: "to go on a hunger strike, starting from today. Should there be no response, I will escalate my hunger strike to include water and medicines. It will continue until death or until I am set free." [1]

War Resisters' International, the international pacifist network with more than 80 affiliated organisations in more than 40 countries, calls on the Egyptian authorities to release imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad. Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested at the end of March 2011, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment on charges of violation of article 184 of the Egyptian penal code, which criminalizes "insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information". His trial in front of a military court and sentencing did not meet international legal standards [2]. The appeal against his sentence from April 2011 has still not been heard, more than four months later. At the same time, other prisoners are being released, or charges for insulting the military are dropped in other cases [3].

"The continued imprisonment of Maikel Nabil Sanad is a grave violation of international human rights standards that Egypt has signed up to", says Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International's Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker, who travelled to Egypt in early April to observe Maikel Nabil Sanad's trial, but was refused permission to attend [4].

Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested and sentenced for his writings about the role of the military during and after the revolution, especially his blog post "The army and the people never were as one" [5] He is the first blogger sentenced for blogging since the toppling of Mubarak in February 2011.

Andreas Speck explains: "In his writings, Maikel Nabil Sanad made use of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes his right to criticise the role of the military during and after the revolution. On 21 July 2011, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations passed a new General Comment 34 on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It writes: 'States parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.' [6]. The sentencing and imprisonment of Maikel Nabil Sanad is in clear violation of the interpretation of article 19 ICCPR, as shown in General Comment 34."

Following the escalation of the hunger strike to include a thirst strike, War Resisters' International is very concerned about Maikel Nabil Sanad's life.

War Resisters' International is calling for an international day of action in support for Maikel Nabil Sanad on 2 September 2011. More information is available at http://wri-irg.org/campaigns/supportmaikelnabil.

END

Contacts:
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International, +44-20-72784040, mobile: +44-7973-683936
Sahar Maher (in Cairo), +20-11-9853045

Notes for journalists

[1] http://wri-irg.org/node/13620
[2] See War Resisters' International, co-alert from 11 April 2011, http://wri-irg.org/node/12728
[3] On Thursday, 18 August 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dropped similar charges against two activists, Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati.
[4] See http://wri-irg.org/node/12593
[5] Available in an edited English version on the WRI website at http://wri-irg.org/node/12484
[6] see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/GC34.pdf

Veröffentlicht in wri-info, 30 August 2011, No. 55