Prisoners in “Ward 1”, the political ward of the Qanater Prison for women, decided to go on hunger strike on Sunday, Nov 22 protesting against gruesome attacks they were subjected to by the prison administration.
Four days ago, the prison administration carried out a search of the wards, during which the detainees were subjected to insults and violence. Five of them were displaced from their ward to the drug ward. The crisis escalated when the detainees objected to the humiliating method of strip search and displacing (Tashreed) two of their fellow inmates. The administration responded by displacing three more.
Moreover, two prison informants – who were assigned solely to handle the political prisoners – assaulted two of the prisoners for refusing to be displaced outside the ward. One of them sustained head injuries, the prison administration refused to transfer her to the hospital for treatment. This prompted the detainees to go on strike to protest against the violence, humiliation of the strip search in addition to the displacement of five of them outside the ward, demanding the return of those who were displaced and transferring their injured colleague to the hospital, as well as improving treatment inside the prison.
The detainees who were displaced to the drug ward are: Nadia Abdel-Hadi, Sumaya Maher, Basma Rifat, Israa Khaled, and Sarah Abdullah. Nadia Abdel-Hadi and Sumaya Maher are completely prohibited from visitation rights, the only way to learn their news is through the visits of their fellow inmates who are detained in the same ward, but now their news has been cut off and there is no way for the families to confirm their wellbeing.
These attacks come against a backdrop of increasing restrictions on political prisoners. After allowing the visits last August, a new head of investigations has been assigned to the prison administration. He placed restrictions on the quantities of food allowed inside during visits and on correspondence, he also prevented certain prisoners from sending and receiving letters. This has doubled the suffering of the detainees who depend on the food that their families bring during visits, as well as the suffering of families who were forced to return with things that they had brought for their imprisoned relatives, most of which were not allowed inside by the prison administration. The number of female prisoners in the political ward ranges from twenty to thirty, some of whom were sentenced, while others are being held in pretrial detention.