BEIRUT

Middle East

20,000 prisoners stage hunger strike in Egypt

FILE - In this Monday, May 19, 2014 file photo, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists hold a cardboard sign with the "rabaa" symbol and from the defendants cage as they receive sentences ranging from death by hanging for one, life in prison for 13 and 8-15 years for the others after they were convicted of murder, rioting, and violence in a mass trial in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP Photo/Heba Khamis)

CAIRO: Around 20,000 prisoners on Friday started a week-long hunger strike inside their prison cells in protest against alleged mistreatment, an Egyptian rights activist said.

"More than 20,000 prisoners started the hunger strike in more than 114 detention centers and prisons," Haytham Abo Khalil, the director of the Center for Human Rights Victims, told Anadolu Agency.

He added that the strike is aimed at protesting what he described as the "mistreatment" inside the nation's prisons.

Abo Khalil said by staging the strike, the prisoners want to draw attention to their suffering inside Egyptian prisons.

A recent report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), a local NGO, documented over 21,000 alleged cases of individuals who had been subject to prosecution since the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military.

There have been reports of widespread and systematic mistreatment and torture being carried out in Egyptian detention facilities.

Egyptian authorities often deny claims of maltreatment inside prisons.

The military-backed government also denies the presence of any "political" prisoners in the nation's jails, saying the thousands arrested since Morsi's ouster face criminal charges.

Egyptian authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, killing hundreds and rounding up thousands.

 

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