Imprisoned Canadians, Friends of Trent, Released

Canadians John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani, who have been imprisoned in Cairo, Egypt since their August 16 arrest, have been released.

Greyson is a successful filmmaker, video artist, writer, activist, educator, and professor at York University. Loubani is an emergency room physician, assistant professor at Western University, and humanitarian.

Loubani intended to work with the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where he had travelled before to educate Egyptian doctors on the treatment of cardiac and trauma patients, helping to improve their health care.

Greyson had travelled with Loubani to film the action at the Al-Shifa hospital and put together a documentary.

The two witnessed the protests in Ramses Square, and saw people die all around them, stating that they witnessed the deaths of over 50 Egyptians.

Loubani stepped in and responded to the wounded victims as Greyson filmed.

The two were accused of being foreign mercenaries as they were brutally beaten, stripped and shaved, and were refused any phone calls. They were two of 602 people arrested.

In a statement released to CTV News, Greyson and Loubani said they have been living in terrible conditions, where they are imprisoned in a three metre by ten metre cell with 36 other people, and sleep on the concrete floor with cockroaches.

After having been held in prison already without any charges for over six weeks, Egyptian authorities said that Greyson and Loubani would be spending another 45 more days in prison.

Their lawyers in Egypt said the two could be charged with participation in an illegal demonstration, incitement of violence, and possibly murder.

Consequently, a formal complaint was filed by Marwa Farouk with Egypt’s prosecutor general last week, challenging their arrest. The challenge ruled in their favour and Greyson and Loubani will now be making their way back to Canada.

Posted on August 29 on the Trent University Cultural Studies PhD Facebook page, it was stated that Greyson is a friend of some faculty members in the Cultural Studies Department here.

One faculty member, Alan O’Connor, told Arthur, “John is a friend of several faculty in the Cultural Studies Department. A number of years ago he gave a filmmaking workshop at Peter Robinson College. Participants brought an object they valued and worked out how they might film it, or build a short film around it. John’s films have been screened, I believe as part of the annual international film festival, when Trent faculty were more involved in organizing the festival.”

Greyson and Loubani’s story has touched the lives of many people at Trent. However, it is not the only story. In Egypt, two Al Jazeera reporters, Abdullah al-Shami and Mohammed Badr, have been imprisoned since July. There continues to be new stories of political prisoners every day and in several countries.