Ibrahim Halawa upset at lack of intervention by Government

Irish citizen expresses frustration during meeting with sister Khadija in Cairo prison

Ibrahim Halawa has been held in prison in Cairo since August 2013.

Ibrahim Halawa has been held in prison in Cairo since August 2013.

 

Ibrahim Halawa has expressed “upset” and “frustration” at the Government’s lack of direct public intervention regarding his detention in Egypt.

The 19-year-old Dublin man met his sister Khadija during an emotional hour-long meeting at the prison where he is being held outside Cairo yesterday.

It was the first physical contact he has had with a family member in nine months, and came following Sunday’s decision by the Egyptian authorities to postpone his trial for another two months.

“It was so moving to see Ibrahim and his sister today, they just didn’t want to let go of each other the whole time,” Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, who was present for the visit, told The Irish Times.

“Usually he gets one visit a week with his sister, that would be for three minutes, and there would be guards overseeing it, so for him to be able to come in and sit for an hour with his sister certainly lifted his mood.”

Although he is appreciative of the support shown by Government ministers and consular staff since his arrest following disturbances outside Cairo’s Al Fateh mosque in 2013, he remains disappointed that Ireland hasn’t taken the approach of open and public intervention adopted by Australia in the case of freed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste.

“He’s very frustrated, and very downhearted about it. He’s not saying they’re not doing anything about it, he knows they are working. I suppose he would disagree with the strategy,” said the Dublin MEP, who says a more overt approach must be taken than behind-the-scenes discussions with Egyptian authorities.

Hunger strike

Mr Halawa’s family are very concerned for his physical condition. He went on hunger strike for almost a fortnight last month.

The teenager suffers from heart conditions and breathing problems, but must share a cramped cell with nine other prisoners with no access to fresh air and just a tap for sanitation and drinking water between them.

Described as being “very depressed” at the moment following the latest postponement, Mr Halawa felt the international attention being centred on him had served to keep him relatively safe, Ms Boylan said.

She, along with the Halawa family solicitor Darragh Mackin, will meet Irish consular staff today to discuss his situation, and his sister Khadija will remain in Egypt until the trial in October.