CAIRO (Middle East Eye) – A group of American activists are staging a hunger strike near the United Nations headquarters in New York in an effort to publicly embarrass and pressure Egypt into stopping politically motivated executions and death sentences.
Sitting on a set of beach chairs in the 32-degree Celsius heat, Medhat Mahmoud and Bahgat Saber told Middle East Eye they were in the 14th day of their hunger strike against the death sentence issued to 12 Egyptian activists, some of whom are senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last month, Egypt’s highest appeals court upheld the death sentences, sparking an international outcry.
Human Rights Watch described the judgments as “a mockery of justice”, while Amnesty International said the sentences were “a stain on the reputation of Egypt’s highest appeals court and cast a dark shadow over the country’s entire justice system”.
The duo, who are coordinating with 22 others in London, said they were dismayed by the international community’s response to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s brutal crackdown against the group, and were urging the world body to intervene.
The pair told MEE that they had already submitted a letter to the UN, urging global diplomats to pressure Cairo into commuting the death sentences of the twelve men, and help save the lives of 68 others currently facing execution.
The activists singled out U.S. lawmakers, in particular, for their reluctance to speak out against the incarceration of Egyptian activists, and their failure to pressure President Joe Biden into putting further conditions on aid to Egypt.
The U.S. Congress has been imposing human rights conditions on $300m of the $1.3bn annual military aid to Egypt, but successive administrations have issued national security waivers to bypass the restrictions.