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MRG condemns the death of Nubian activist while in detention in Aswan, Egypt

10 November 2017

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) strongly condemns the medical negligence at Aswan’s Shalal Central Security Camp that led to the death of Nubian indigenous activist Mohammed Saleh Sorour Ammer on 4 November 2017. Sorour had been detained since 3 September 2017 along with 24 other activists for taking part in a protest that aimed to uphold the Nubian indigenous people’s constitutional right to return to their ancestral lands. MRG believes that there is no legal basis for the continued detention of the activists, which it believes is politically motivated.

Sorour had reportedly been ill since the previous evening when the detainees requested assistance from the detention centre’s authorities. Their refusal to provide prompt care is believed to have contributed to a rapid deterioration in Sorour’s health. By the afternoon of the next day, Sorour had fallen into a coma and was unable to speak.  The detention centre’s authorities reportedly continued to refuse to provide medical assistance after which the lawyers filed an administrative complaint, and the prosecution finally gave permission for an ambulance to head to the Shalal Camp.

There are contradictory reports on the timing and circumstances of Sorour’s death. At least two detainees confirm that Sorour passed away in his cell before the arrival of the ambulance.Yet the medical certificate issued by the Aswan University Hospital stated that Sorour passed away after he had arrived at the hospital. It also stated that attempts were made to revive him, but that these were unsuccessful and Sorour passed away shortly afterwards.

MRG also strongly criticizes the Egyptian security forces’ intervention in cancelling Sorour’s funeral and religious procession. MRG sees that this as an interference in the religious freedom of the family of the deceased.

In addition, MRG is highly concerned about the health of two further detainees who have taken part in a hunger strike since 31 October 2017. Detainees Miyasara Abdoun and Zakaria Rabii’ are reportedly facing serious medical issues.

MRG demands an immediate independent and impartial investigation regarding the circumstances of the death of Mohammed Saleh Sorour Ammer, as well as the medical services at the Shalal Aswan Central Security Camp. It reminds the Egyptian government that the health and well-being of all incarcerated detainees and prisoners are its responsibility.