“Mohamed died, and came back to life,” said a nurse earlier this month while attending to the care of U.S. citizen and Ohio State University graduate Mohamed Soltan, who has been on a hunger strike for 324 days (as of December 17) in an Egyptian prison. Mohamed’s hunger strike is in protest to his illegal detention related to his arrest in August 2013 by Egyptian authorities on what is described as politically-motivated charges.
While the nurse was measuring Mohamed’s blood sugar—which was about 30 at that time—Soltan lost consciousness following a seizure. Everyone in his cell screamed, declaring him dead. They panicked and started to rub sweets on his lips to raise his blood sugar level in hopes of raising his sugar levels and preventing him from choking his tongue. He remained unconscious for another 20 minutes. When he regained consciousness he was rushed to the urgent care facility. Soltan did not remember anything, including names of immediate family members. He reported experiencing cold chills and hot flashes.
Mohamed was later transferred to Qasr Al Aini Hospital. When they measured his blood sugar, it was around 23. They hooked him to an IV, injecting calcium, glucose, and magnesium into his fragile body. Based on the tests, they concluded that those deficiencies had caused the seizure.
Mohamed was left alone in urgent care. When he woke up, he asked to see his father and was denied. He was accompanied by a guard around the clock instead. Mohamed demanded once again to see his father, when the request was denied again he became really angry and experienced what could only amount to a nervous breakdown. He started beating his head on the door’s metal bars. The incident was immediately reported to the officer in charge, but Mohamed received no sympathy. His request to be accompanied by his father in what is sure to have felt like his last moments on this earth was denied despite the proximity of the cell his father is held in to his (15 meters)
The family is deeply saddened by the news of Mohamed’s deteriorating health and emotional state. “It is especially heartbreaking to learn of the psychological torture he and his dad experience in being denied the comfort of each other’s company in a situation this dire and bleak,” Mohamed’s family said. “It appears the current regime is determined to see Mohamed dead. We pray that Allah SWT ends the oppression Mohamed and others are suffering.”
The end is nearing
This week, Mohamed has been transferred to the ICU in Asr AlAiny hospital due to the complete deterioration of his health. Mohamed refusing medication and check-ups as as a form of strike due to inhumane treatment and the transfer of his father to Aqrab Prison. “Mohamed continues to face emotional pressure from the Egyptian authority as they have isolated him from the outside world by not allowing people to see or speak to him,” the family said.
By the family of Mohamed Soltan
More about Mohamed Soltan
Mohamed Soltan, U.S. citizen and an Ohio State University graduate, took part in the Rabaa Square Protests after the military coup in Egypt toppled the democratically-elected government. Although Soltan is not a Muslim Brotherhood member, his desire to help and his ability to speak both English and Arabic fluently, led him to becoming the media spokesman dealing with international reporters. He was a sympathizer of the cause that promoted democracy, freedom, and social justice for Egypt. He strongly believed in nonviolence.
He was a first-hand witness when the army took down Rabaa square. On August 14, he was shot in the arm by an army sniper. His efforts were not deterred, as he continued to participate in pro-democracy protests. On August 25, police forces arrested Soltan, along with three other Egyptian youth. It is reported that he is facing charges on bizarre, fabricated counts, and awaits the day that he is fully absolved and reunited with his family and friends.
At the onset of his detention, Soltan was moved from prison to prison to ensure that his whereabouts would remain unknown. Once his family was finally able to connect with him, Soltan informed them of the intense brutality he was facing on a day to day basis while in prison. “The brutality with which I have been treated has been mind boggling,” he said. “During the day, soldiers and police would get in two straight lines, and we would have to run in between them as they beat us with rocks and sticks. They roused anger amongst the officers by falsely proclaiming that we had killed police officers. The officers stripped off our pants and shirts as they beat us with clubs. They put us in jail cells with what must have been 60 other inmates, and it was terribly hot and water was not made available to us. I saw an inmate suffer a heart attack right before my eyes and not receive proper medical attention. The surgical wound on my arm was open and oozing, and not one of the guards seemed to care because I was labeled a political prisoner.”
After months of illegal detention, Soltan finally stood before a judge in January 2014. No evidence was presented and no argument was made, the judge simply ordered him to be held for another 45 days. In protest, Soltan entered into a hunger strike immediately following the hearing on January 26, 2014 with no plans to end it before he is released for lack of evidence against him. Throughout the year, Egyptian authorities have ignored him, with hearings scheduled and postponed throughout his detention.