Egyptian prisoners stage mass protest

Photo: Egyptian prisoners stage mass protest / Arabic region

Thousands of Egyptian prisoners are refusing to attend trials and are staging hunger strikes in protest at conditions and the violations of justice, rights groups have told Al Jazeera.

The protests, which began on Thursday, come days after nearly 700 people accused of violence and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death in a mass trial that lasted four days.

A statement issued on the behalf of prisoners said the strike was taking place in 90 jails and detention centres in order to protest against the mass trials, and appaling jail conditions.

One prisoner at the Wadi al Natrun told Al Jazeera on Thursday: "We have started our hunger strike now. Plus we've decided not to go out for exercise. We won't be attending any court sessions nor will we stand before any prosecutors."

A panel of human rights groups said that security forces on Wednesday morning entered a prison in Fayoum, 100km south of Cairo, to force prisoners to attend their court sessions. Several prisoners were reportedly injured.

According to a report by the Arab-African International Centre for Consultancy and Human Rights, 20,000 prisoners were involved in the protest.

Prisoners vowed to continue their strike until all their demands are met, with plans to launch a second phase on May 3.

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