Hunger strike: Canadians jailed in Egypt refuse food to protest arbitrary detention

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The following press release was issued yesterday by supporters of the immediate release of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, two Canadians who have been jailed for over a month in Egypt. 

 Canadian filmmaker, John Greyson, and emergency room physician, Tarek Loubani, have informed friends and supporters through their Egyptian lawyers that they will be refusing food beginning September the 16 to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities.

Greyson and Loubani, who were transiting through Cairo on their way to Gaza where Loubani was carrying on a medical aid project, and Greyson was preparing for a film project, have been detained in Cairo’s Tora prison for the past 31 days. During that time, Egyptian officials have not provided any reason for the ongoing detention.

Greyson and Loubani’s detention could be extended up to two years without formal charges being laid according to new emergency measures put in place in Egypt.

"We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility," said Cecilia Greyson. "We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon," she added.

"We have been overwhelmed by all of the support we have received in our campaign to bring Tarek and John back home," said Mohammed Loubani. "We are also grateful to the many Department of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (DFATD) employees, and consular officials who have worked so tirelessly to make sure Tarek and John stay safe and are returned to us as soon as possible," he added.

"We also want to thank Prime Minister Harper, Minister Baird, and Minister Yelich for advocating for John and Tarek’s release at the highest levels of the Egyptian Government," said Mohammd Loubani. "We are especially looking forward to the results of discussions with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mr. Hazem El-Beblawi; Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Abdul-Fatah Al-Sisi; and Minister of Interior, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim about John and Tarek’s ongoing detention," he added.

A petition calling for the release of the two Canadians has received 115,000 signatures to date. In addition, 311 prominent cultural and academic figures have signed a letter calling for John and Tarek’s release. Among the signatories are Alec Baldwin, Alex Gibney, Arundhati Roy, Atom Egoyan, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Danny Glover, Sarah Polley, Naomi Klein and Michael Ondaatje

Amnesty International has issued an urgent action about Tarek and John, asking for letters and phone calls directly to Interim President Adly Mahmoud Mansour, Minister of Defence General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Public Prosecutor Hesham Mohamed Zaki Barakat.

Supporters of Tarek and John will be gathering at the Egyptian Consulate in Montreal at 1p.m. on Tuesday September 24. "The Egyptian authorities seem to be sending the message that Egypt is not a safe place to travel to, that if you go there, you can be jailed for a long time and with no recourse," said Justin Podur. "We want to send the message that we will not forget our friends, and we will not settle for anything less than their immediate release."


For more information contact Justin Podur at justin[at]podur[dot]org or Cecilia Greyson at cgreyson[at]gmail[dot]com


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