Up until a few weeks ago, Maryam Al Khawajah and Alaa Abd El Fattah were on hunger strike and in jail. Hashtags demanding their release from prison in Bahrain and Egypt were trending on Twitter.
These prominent activists join us on this episode of GV Face from the freedom of their homes, but their struggle is far from over.
Maryam is currently in Copenhagen, unable to see her father, a leading Bahrain activist who has been behind bars and on hunger strike twice since 2011.
In Egypt, Alaa was released on bail shortly after he ended his 40 days hunger strike in jail a few weeks ago. He is currently awaiting a re-trial and is under a travel ban. His 20-year-old younger sister is on her 47th day of hunger strike behind bars.
Hundreds of political prisoners are currently on hunger strike in Egypt and Bahrain.
Maryam and Alaa have been tweeting their day-by-day struggles the last three years, ever since the ‘Arab Spring’ captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands around the world. Alaa has more than 636 K Twitter followers and Maryam has close to 101K followers on the microblogging site.
In Egypt, some hunger strikers have been in jail since anti-regime protests broke out on January 25, 2011. In Bahrain, which has been witnessing anti-regime protests since February 14, 2011, more than 600 political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest torture in jail.
In this episode we talk to Alaa and Maryam about their activism, the struggles they face in Bahrain and Egypt and the hopes that keeps them resilient about their country's future.
Alaa has been jailed or investigated under every Egyptian head of state who has served during his lifetime. In 2006, he was arrested for taking part in a peaceful protest. In 2011, he spent two months in prison, missing the birth of his first child. In 2013, he was arrested and detained for 115 days without trial. And he now he faces 15 years in prison.
Maryam was arrested at the airport in late August, as she tried to enter Bahrain to meet her father a prominent human rights activist who has been behind bars since April 2011. Her father was on the 27th day of his second hunger strike. More than 600 political prisoners have gone on hunger strike in Bahrain to protest being tortured in prison, since February 14, 2011, when anti-regime protests started. After Maryam was arrested at the airport, she was accused of hitting a member of the police force. Maryam denies the charges. In detention, she started a hunger strike. She was released from jail on September 19 and has since left the country. Her father remains in prison. Maryam is the co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights