Prominent Nubian activist dies in detention in Egypt

2017-11-05 17:03


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Cairo - A prominent Nubian activist arrested in Egypt last month for taking part in a peaceful protest has died in detention, a lawyer and a long-time friend said on Sunday.

They said Gamal Sorour, a businessman in his early 50s, died on Saturday, but that there were conflicting reports on whether he died in his place of detention or shortly after his arrival at hospital.

Sorour, who has had long-term health issues and underwent brain surgery several years ago, suffered a diabetic coma on Saturday.

His death was reported by prominent rights lawyer Ragia Omran, who saw him last week during a court hearing in Aswan, and his longtime friend and fellow activist, Haggag Oddoul.

Omran says his funeral will be held on Sunday in Cairo, home to a sizable Nubian community.

Sorour was among 25 Nubians arrested in Aswan in early September for staging a peaceful protest. They were 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.

It was the third evacuation of Nubians from their homes in southern Egypt since the early 20th century, with the other two also because of dam construction on the river.

Sorour's death is likely to renew debate about prison conditions in Egypt, where authorities have arrested thousands of people in recent years as part of a widespread crackdown on dissent. Many have been held for years without charges or trial.

"Sadly, Gamal Sorour is not the first or last detainee to die while in custody," Omran, a member of the state-sanctioned 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."

Sorour and the other Nubians were being held at a security forces camp in Aswan.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa

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