12 January 2015 Edition
Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience – Ibrahim Halawa
Raised in Dublin, held in prison in Egypt since August 2013 on trumped-up charges, 19-year-old Ibrahim faces the death penalty if convicted
ARRESTED when he was just 17, Ibrahim Halawa has been held in prison in Egypt since August 2013 on trumped-up charges. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
He grew up here in Rathfarnham, in leafy south Dublin, attended Holy Rosary Primary School with his sisters, played football with his mates. His primary school principal was among those protesting outside the Egyptian Embassy on Ibrahim’s 19th birthday.
He is an Irish citizen, one who should be attending university along with his friends, who should be doing all the things any other Irish teenager does. Instead, he has been held in cramped, dirty conditions, without food and without legal representation, for over 500 days.
As we go to press, his trial has been postponed for a third time. He is being tried along with nearly 500 others in a shameless violation of international law, his human rights completely disregarded, his human dignity ground into the dirt.
Ibrahim has been declared an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression. He was arrested after taking refuge in a mosque when Government forces opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters. Around the same time, Egyptian authorities killed almost a thousand people in the Rabaa massacre. It was a terrifying time for Ibrahim and his sisters, who were also arrested.
Ibrahim was shot in the hand during the unrest and was denied medical attention. He embarked on a hunger strike during his time in prison, to the horror of his family who begged him to stop.
South Dublin County Council has written to Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, asking that he demand that Ibrahim be released into the care of his family. Lynn Boylan MEP has repeatedly highlighted the case in the European Parliament and has written to the High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs about the case.
We need to do more.
We need to keep sustained pressure on our government to keep intervening with the Egyptian Government on the Halawas’ behalf.
It is up to all of us to demand Ibrahim’s release, to demand that he is returned home to Ireland, to demand that our Minister for Foreign Affairs takes action on his behalf, to stand up for the rights of this Irish citizen.