Morsi backers rally in solidarity with Egypt prisoners

By Islam Mosaad, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Scores of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi staged demonstrations on Wednesday morning in solidarity with thousands of people held by Egypt's army-backed authorities since Morsi's ouster

Scores of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi staged demonstrations on Wednesday morning in solidarity with thousands of people held by Egypt's army-backed authorities since Morsi's ouster

CAIRO – Scores of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi staged demonstrations on Wednesday morning in solidarity with thousands of people held by Egypt's army-backed authorities since Morsi's ouster, who have declared a one-day hunger strike to protest alleged mistreatment inside the nation's prisons.

Demonstrators formed human chains in the northern Damietta province and in the Nile Delta's Sharqiya and Gharbiya provinces, shouting slogans condemning detentions and violations said to be routinely committed inside prisons.

Protesters demanded the release of detainees and denounced a controversial verdict issued two days ago sentencing over a thousand people – mostly Morsi supporters – to either death or life in prison.

A single-day hunger strike, announced earlier this month, is being organized in 11 prisons across the country on Wednesday, Haytham Abo Khalil, director of the Victims Center for Human Rights, an Egyptian NGO, told Anadolu Agency earlier.

A recent report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO, documented 21,317 cases of individuals who had been subject to prosecution since Morsi's ouster by the military last July.

According to the report, 16,387 of these were arrested while participating in political activities (i.e., participation in pro-Morsi rallies, etc).

Abo Khalil said his NGO was coordinating with the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy – Morsi's main support bloc in Egypt – to organize parallel demonstrations as Wednesday's hunger strike progresses.

Egyptian prison authorities could not be reached for comment or verification of the claims.

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

The authorities, for their part, have repeatedly denied reports that torture is being used against detained supporters of Morsi and his embattled Muslim Brotherhood group.

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 have been charged with criminal offenses.

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