Keep going until Ibrahim is released

Last week, Ibrahim Halawa’s trial was postponed for the twentieth time. He has been moved back to prison after spending four weeks in hospital.

Ibrahim was on holiday with his three sisters when he was arrested in Al Fath Mosque during a protest in August 2013. His sisters were released on bail but he was interned and he has been refused a trial since.

Despite pressure from Irish politicians and international humanitarian organisations, he is still being refused a trial. And his health is deteriorating, according to his sister. She thanked the Irish people for their solidarity and support during an interview with RTÉ.

“His hunger strike is still ongoing. Ibrahim continues to tell us he won’t stop his hunger strike until he is back home to eat among us,” she said.

She said that it is important that we campaign on behalf of Ibrahim. But is that all we can do?

We are restricted in what we can do. Even the government is powerless. It can’t interfere with the Egyptian judicial system and force the Egyptians to release Ibrahim.

That’s what Bríd Smith of PBP was calling for in the Dáil on Thursday when a row broke out between her and the Ceann Comhairle. She accused him of trying to shut down the debate; he said the issue was not relevant to the point of business. The house was suspended for ten minutes.

The Left has been consistent and admirable in their campaigning for Ibrahim Halawa. Sinn Féin and AAA/PBP have raised the issue countless times with the government.

Though the Left has drawn much attention to Ibrahim, the other parties, including those in government, are doing all they can with the limited power they have in this situation. A cross-party delegation visited him in prison in January, just as his hunger strike was in its infancy.

Now he is being kept alive by glucose injections.

Gerry Adams spoke of his condition from Stormont where he is participating in negotiations.

“Ibrahim appeared in court earlier this week in a wheelchair. It is also believed he is suffering greatly as a result of ulceration of the skin due to fly-bites,” he said.

“Ibrahim is very sick. After more than three years, the Egyptian state has failed to produce any evidence against Ibrahim. The state’s technical report doesn’t even mention Ibrahim,” he added.

Adams called on the government to consider a legal challenge against Ibrahim’s continued imprisonment. He also said that the only thing stopping his release is President Sisi and the Egyptian state.

But Dara Murphy of Fine Gael stated on Tuesday that President Sisi has consistently said that he cannot use his discretionary powers until the trial has ended.

Charlie Flanagan met his Egyptian counterpart in Brussels two weeks ago, and raised the matter with him once more, who reiterated that they are anxious to resolve the matter but can’t intervene.

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