Detained Nubian activist dies following hunger strike in Egyptian prison

Detained Nubian activist, Gamal Sorour, died on Saturday after being transferred to Aswan University hospital following a diabetic coma, according to lawyer Ahmed Rizk.

Detained during a singing march in early September demanding the return of Nubians to their ancestral lands, from which they were evicted in the 1960s to make way for the lake behind the High Dam on the Nile, the other 24 detained Nubians now face accusations of taking part in an unauthorized demonstration, inciting protest and disrupting public order.

If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.

Sorour, having had serious health issues and who underwent life-saving surgery several years ago, suffered a diabetic coma on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Of the 24 detained activists, eight declared going on hunger strike on Monday after they had received an additional 15 days in pretrial detention.

Member of Parliament Yassin Abdel Sabour released a statement calling for a swift investigation into the death of Sorour.

Abdel Sabour said that Sorour died after he had been denied medical assistance for two hours inside his cell.

“Why weren’t the demands of the Nubian activists considered, instead of using arbitrariness?” Abdel Sabour wrote.

Dozens of mourners attended Sorour’s funeral on Sunday in the Abdeen neighborhood where many Nubians reside.

“Sadly, Gamal Sorour is not the first or last detainee to die while in custody,” Omran, a member the National Council for Human Rights, wrote on Facebook.

“Medical negligence in police stations, prisons and detention centers is a daily occurrence, despite widespread campaigns calling for proper health care for detainees, which is a basic right.”

Aswan prosecutors interrogated the 24 Nubians who participated in the “Nubian Gathering Day” march, which took place in al-Jazeera Square earlier in September.

The march called for the implementation of Article 236 of the Constitution that returns Nubians who were displaced from their lands during the construction of the High Dam. They also called for the cancellation of resolution 444, and demanded the establishment of an authority for the development of the Nubia region.

The protesters rejected the results of a state-formed inventory committee that would estimate the compensations displaced Nubians would receive, and called for the halt of land seizures on the Nile strip in western Aswan.

Protesters chanted Nubian songs and carried banners that read their demands.

Security forces intercepted the Nubian march on the Corniche of the Nile and arrested the participants, including lawyers, Mounir Bashir, president of the Nubian Lawyers’ Association, and Mohamed Azmy, former president of the Nubian General Union in Aswan.

The march was deemed illegal as participants had not obtained a permit from authorities prior to organizing it, a security source said at the time.

Ever since Egypt began displacing Nubians in the early twentieth century, protests have been organized demanding the right for them to return. Following the 2011 uprising the Nubian protest movement was strengthened, with a host of new organizations being formed as well as social and political actions and events being organized.

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