Petitioning John Baird: Canadian Government: Help Free Tarek and John
On Friday August 16th, Tarek Loubani, a Canadian emergency physician and John Greyson, a Canadian filmmaker and professor were arrested by Egyptian authorities. Tarek and John were on their way to Gaza — where Tarek was to work at Al Shifa Hospital, and John to explore the possibility of making a film about the work.
Days later, Tarek and John are still being held in Cairo’s Tora prison.Egyptian officials have given no clear reason for their arrest.
Family and friends are worried sick about their safety. Pressure from the Canadian government is our best hope. We must pressure our government to demand their freedom and pressure the Egyptian authorities to let them go.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Please sign the petition below. An automatic email will be sent to Prime Minister Harper, Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and the Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa.
2. Please phone and email your MP by searching your postal code here. We strongly encourage you to include a personal message, especially if you know Tarek or John personally or professionally.
3. If you’re on Twitter, please use the hashtag #FreeTarekandJohn and tweet your elected officials.
4. Join this Facebook group or check out http://tarekandjohn.com for updates on their whereabouts and how you can help.
5. Please help us flood the phonelines for the Egyptian embassy in Ottawa, the Egyptian consulate in Montreal as well as John Baird and Stephen Harper.
6. For media inquiries, please contact Justin Podur at 416-407-7795 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Egyptian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1-613-234-4931, +1-613-234-4935 email@example.com
Egyptian Consulate General, Montreal, Canada: +1-514-8668455; +1-514-8668456; +1-514-8668457; firstname.lastname@example.org
John Baird – Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada, 613-990-7720, email@example.com
@honjohnbaird Department of Foreign Affairs Canada: @DFATDCanada
Stephen Harper – Prime Minister of Canada; Phone: 613-992-4211; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For our US friends: Egyptian Embassy in the US: email@example.com
Travellers begin hunger strike to demand their release—or, at least, two hours a day of prison yard time.
For 34 days and counting, John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani have barely left the confines of their cell in Egypt’s notorious Tora prison.
The two Canadians, who were arrested and thrown in jail in Egypt on their way to Gaza, were allowed only one 30-minute break from the cage they shared with 36 other prisoners during their first month of being behind bars, Mr. Greyson’s sister Cecilia told Embassy.
Due to the legal system currently in place, they could be held for two years without charge or trial, friends and family say.
They were just recently given something resembling a cot to sleep on, and were moved to a less congested cell. They have not been able to speak directly to their family, resorting to sending one or two line messages home through Canadian consular officers.
The most recent message relayed back to their family brought an anxiety-inducing update: they will now be facing the daunting circumstances while on a hunger strike diet consisting of fruit juice and water.
They’re demanding their release—or, at the very least, two hours a day of freedom in the fenced-in prison yard.
The arrest and detention of the two men, who flew into Cairo and were meant to immediately travel by land to a hospital in Gaza, is increasingly looking politically motivated, said Ms. Greyson.
By John Miner, The London Free Press
The chilling evaluation of prospects for a London doctor and Toronto filmmaker jailed without charge in Egypt, came from someone who should know.
Alisdare Hickson, who was imprisoned in Cairo for 54 days in 2012, told the families of Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson that if he’d been detained for months in the notorious Tora prison in Cairo, seen below, where the two Canadians are held, only luck would have got him out alive.
“He was only talking about surviving,” Mohammed Loubani, Tarek Loubani’s brother, said Tuesday.
Hickson, a Briton living in Egypt, was detained in Cairo on Feb. 5, 2012, while photographing a protest near the Interior Ministry building. He was arrested and beaten by police when caught hiding in a stairwell after tear gas broke up the protest.
The families of Loubani and Greyson — the two men have been held for a month — have consulted Hickson to get an understanding of what their loved ones face, with a possible detention of two years without charges.
In a blog about his time in a police station and the Tora prison, Hickson says he can only tell a fraction about conditions in the prison out of concern for friends there who helped him keep his sanity.
But what he does describe is still brutal:
- Captured kids beaten for taking sweaters and jackets off in a sweltering prison van.
- Raw sewage often flooding his cell from a nearby washroom area.
- Being punched in the eye by a guard and cut on the neck with a razor by another prisoner
- Having to pay several cartons of cigarettes to be allowed to use the cell’s washroom.
In an e-mail to The Free Press Tuesday, Hickson said he’s learned since his release Tora has become more overcrowded and more violent.
Hickson also learned of the death of a good friend at Tora, the only other British prisoner when he was there.
The 25-year-old had been seriously ill with tuberculosis symptoms for a year, but prison authorities repeatedly refused to admit him to hospital. He was caught borrowing a cellphone from another prisoner and sent to a punishment cell without food for three days, Hickson said.
When an aunt visited him in March, he had to be carried to the visiting area by guards. She broke down and offered to pay the full cost of any medical treatment, but prison authorities refused. He died in May.
“Tora prison was really a nightmare — I’m so glad I escaped from it, but obviously very sad for (the two Canadians). I am sure they’ve been framed,” Hickson wrote in his email.
Loubani and Greyson were held for the first 31 days of their detention in a cell with 40 others sharing one toilet and one sink.
If you are from an organization or a professional organization, or writing as an individual, please send a copy of your statement, press release, or letter supporting John & Tarek to cgreysonATgmail.com.
Sign the petition:
Join over 67,000 supporters! Sign or share our petition to help free John & Tarek.
Contact the Egyptian authorities:
Please ask for the immediate release of John & Tarek.
Canadian Embassy in Egypt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Egyptian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada
Egyptian Consulate General, Montreal, Canada
Check this site and Justin Podur’s blog for press releases and new information as it becomes available.
Also, follow Cecilia Greyson (John’s sister) on Twitter for updates as they occur.
There is also a Facebook group.
For media interviews:
Contact cgreysonATgmail.com for media interviews with myself or another individual.