Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad on hunger and thirst strike

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I have learned that pacifist and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad, who has been arrested in the night of 28 March 2011 by the military, and who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 10 April 2011 on charges of "insulting the military", began a hunger strike on 23 August 2011. On 25 August, he was moved to solitary confinement within El Marg prison, but the authorities refused to move him to the prison hospital.

After one week of hunger strike, Maikel Nabil Sanad escalated his hunger strike on 30 August, and is now also refusing to drink.

Egypt is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial in article 14, and freedom of opinion and expression in article 19. The newly approved interim constitution of Egypt also guarantees the right to freedom of expression, and the freedom of the press.

In his writings, Maikel Nabil Sanad made use of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes his right to criticise the role of the military during and after the revolution.

The sentencing of Maikel Nabil Sanad to three years in prison is a violation of his human rights - especially his right to freedom of opinion and expression and his right to a fair trial. In addition, Maikel Nabil Sanad was tried in a military court, although he is a civilian. This again is against Egyptian and international law and legal standards.

On 21 July, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations passed a new General Comment 34 on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It writes: "States parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration." (see The sentencing and imprisonment is in clear violation of the interpretation of article 19 ICCPR, as shown in General Comment 34.

On Thursday, 18 August 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dropped similar charges against two activists, Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati. It is an injustice that Maikel Nabil Sanad is still imprisoned, and his appeal delayed, while other activists are being released.

Maikel Nabil Sanad began his hunger strike in protest against his apparent injustice. I am concerned about Maikel Nabil Sanad's health, and there urge you to restore justice by releasing Maikel Nabil Sanad. As an immediate interim step, I urge you to transfer him to the prison hospital.

I urge you to respect human rights.