Ibrahim Halawa, is a 19 year old from Dublin, who is awaiting trial in Egypt for his involvement in the demonstrations of the 16th and 17th August 2013 in central Cairo. Last Sunday, his trial was postponed for the fourth time and on the 29th of March, his next trial date, he will face the possibility of the death penalty.
Ibrahim was arrested in August of 2013 with his 3 sisters. The four family members were arrested after security forces stormed a mosque in Cairo. Thankfully Somaia, Fatima and Omaima Halawa were allowed return home after four months. Ibrahim, however, has not been so blessed. He has been in jail for 545 days today, for simply exercising his right to political assembly.
Ibrahim and 493 other people are on trial for their role in protests in the Ramisis area. At least 97 people died in the protests- most as a result of a reckless use of force by the security forces. Ibrahim was shot in his hand when the security forces stormed the building, but was not given access to medical care for his injury, and the only treatment he received was from a cellmate who happened to be a doctor. He has also written of being beaten and spat on by his jailers.
Its shameful to admit but we have to acknowledge that this young man is being left in Egypt to face death because of his race and religion. With no criticism intended of the Irish foreign affairs diplomatic staff in Egypt who have reportedly visited Ibrahim multiple times over the past few months, it must be said that the response from Irish society has been subdued. Consider for instance; if the person involved was someone called Aoife O’Doyle from Rathfarnham, who had been arrested on extravagant charges for her volunteer work abroad. The response would be unanimous in outrage at the treatment of an Irish citizen in this way.
If Aoife O’Doyle had been shot in the hand, left untreated and detained for over 18 months with the threat of the death penalty; we would be listening to Bono pontificate on NewsTalk daily and overhearing conversations in local pubs about the situation. Much to our regret, this is not the case and Ibrahim has touched on this issue himself in letters released by his family. He is an Irish citizen and deserves the same protection and advocacy as anyone who finds themselves, illegitimately, in trouble abroad . Ibrahim’s struggle is one that deserves our support throughout the left, the trade-union movement and wider Irish society.
If we don’t manage to rally in support of an Irish citizen from a migrant background facing the death penalty abroad, what does it say about us and our ability to accept those from different backgrounds? Ibrahim is an Irish man, a Dubliner and a prisoner of conscience.
As members of the Unite youth committee, we will do everything within our means to ensure that Ibrahim Halawa’s plight and his treatment by the Egyptian state is made known to trade union members across Ireland and the globe.
Unite Youth – Dublin Activist Group demands that every effort is made to secure his release as soon as possible so that he can return to his family in Ireland and recover from this unnecessary ordeal at the hands of the Egyptian authorities.
Add your voice to those calling for the release of Ibrahim by signing the Amnesty Ireland’s letter to the Egyptian Embassy or writing to Charles Flanagan TD, at The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frederick Buildings, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 or write to him on twitter @CharlieFlanagan using #FreeIbrahim.