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Mass Hunger Strike at Egypt’s “Guantanamo”

File photo of detainees sitting in a holding area at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay

Cairo: To highlight alleged abuses, including the beating of family members who came to visit, at least 32 prisoners held inside one of Egypt’s most notorious jails have gone on a mass hunger strike.

Al Arqab prison with maximum security is about 20km south of Cairo.Prisoners in Al Arqab prison about began refusing food last month.

An organisation which documents status of prisoners , told Al Jazeera that a series of several violations took place this year inside al-Aqrab, including several assaults by prison guards on inmates, as well as against their family members.

The alleged beatings forced a few prisoners to go on a hunger strike from February 24 who were later joined by more than two dozen other inmates. They say they will continue refusing food until their demands to improve conditions are met.

Gehad el-Haddad, former media spokesman for the “Muslim Brotherhood”, was one of the first to go on a hunger strike. El-Haddad has been in al-Aqrab since January 25, 2014. His wife, Basma Mahmoud, told Al Jazeera ,”He’s asking for basic living necessities. Asking for edible food, for basic medical care… For family visitations with no glass in between. Even clothes, we’re in the winter and they’re wearing very light clothes,”

Mahmoud, saw her husband on February 29 last, said she and other visitors had to camp outside the prison the night before in order to see the inmates.

“To visit him, I had to be there in front of the prison from 8pm the night before so that I can see him the next day at 2pm – for just two minutes,” she said.

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