Cana­di­ans held in Egypt cite abuse

Is­sue state­ment claim­ing beat­ing and degra­da­tion

SundayXtra - - NEWS CANADA/ WORLD - By Will Camp­bell

TORONTO — Two Cana­di­ans im­pris­oned in Egypt say they were beaten and have been sub­jected to de­grad­ing treat­ment in a cock­roach- rid­den jail cell since be­ing de­tained at the height of vi­o­lent protests in Cairo last month.

Tarek Loubani, a Lon­don, Ont., doc­tor, and Toronto film­maker John Greyson is­sued a joint state­ment on Satur­day giv­ing their first com­ments on the or­deal they have gone through since be­ing ar­rested in Cairo six weeks ago.

“We’ve been held here since Aug. 16 in ridicu­lous con­di­tions: no phone calls, lit­tle to no ex­er­cise, shar­ing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, sleep­ing like sar­dines on con­crete with the cock­roaches; shar­ing a sin­gle tap of earthy Nile wa­ter,” said the state­ment, which was posted on a web­site ded­i­cated to ob­tain­ing their re­lease.

The pair said they went to watch the protests a few blocks from their ho­tel on Aug. 15 and wit­nessed dozens of pro­test­ers be­ing bru­tally killed. Their night­mare started when they stopped for ice cream and then tried to go through a po­lice road­block.

“That’s when we were: ar­rested, searched, caged, ques­tioned, in­ter­ro­gated, video­taped with a ‘ Syr­ian ter­ror­ist,’ slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot- boxed, re­fused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, ac­cused of be­ing for­eign mer­ce­nar­ies,” the state­ment said.

“Was it our Cana­dian pass­ports, or the footage of Tarek per­form­ing CPR, or our ice cream wrap­pers that set them off? They screamed ‘ Cana­dian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a pre­cisely etched boot­print bruise on his back for a week.”

The pair had only planned an overnight stay in Cairo on Aug. 15 be­fore head­ing to Gaza, where Loubani was to teach emer­gency room medicine doc­u­mented by Greyson, the state­ment said.

But they couldn’t get across the bor­der due the out­break of protests in Cairo and across the coun­try the fol­low­ing day.

As they watched the vi­o­lence erupt in Cairo’s Ram­ses Square they heard calls of “doc­tor.”

“( We saw) a young man car­ried by oth­ers from God knows where, bleed­ing from a bul­let wound. Tarek snapped into doc­tor mode and started to work do­ing emer­gency re­sponse, try­ing to save lives, while John did video doc­u­men­ta­tion, shoot­ing a record of the car­nage that was un­fold­ing.”

“We would wel­come our day in a real court with the real ev­i­dence, be­cause then this footage would pro­vide us with our al­ibi and serve as a wit­ness to the mas­sacre,” the state­ment added.

The men said they wit­nessed more than 50 Egyp­tians die, adding the day’s fi­nal death toll reached 102.

The men are de­nied phone calls with fam­ily while at­tempts to get clear an­swers from pros­e­cu­tors about why they’re be­ing held go unan­swered, the state­ment con­tends.

“We de­serve due process, not cock­roaches on con­crete. We de­mand to be re­leased,” they said.

The pair are on day 12 of a hunger strike to protest their de­ten­tion. Greyson’s sis­ter Ce­cilia said Cana­dian con­sular of­fi­cials vis­ited the men two days ago and told her they are in “good health” but are tired and show­ing vis­i­ble signs of weight loss.

Ce­cilia Greyson said while the men were well aware of the toll a hunger strike would take on their bod­ies, their fam­i­lies re­main wor­ried for their health and care.

“We’re very con­cerned about how they’re do­ing and they are go­ing to be cau­tious with... not eat­ing food but we are very con­cerned with their health and also with their safety.”

She said the state­ment was dic­tated by the men to their lawyers and is be­ing re­leased in re­sponse to a Toronto Star re­port quot­ing an Egypt for­eign min­istry spokesman say­ing there is a “solid ba­sis... to charge them in the near fu­ture.”

Egyp­tian pros­e­cu­tors have ac­cused Loubani and Greyson of “par­tic­i­pat­ing with mem­bers of the Mus­lim Brother­hood” in an at­tack on a po­lice sta­tion.

Ce­cilia Greyson said the ac­cu­sa­tions against the pair are trumped up and the men are be­ing held be­cause of the deaths they wit­nessed that day in Cairo.

For­eign Min­is­ter John Baird said he raised the case of the Loubani and Greyson in a meet­ing Fri­day night with his Egyp­tian coun­ter­part.

“I ap­pre­ci­ated the high- level en­gage­ment but im­pressed upon them the im­por­tance of the file to the gov­ern­ment of Canada,” Baird said on Twit­ter af­ter the state­ment came out.

“I look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing fu­ture up­dates in very near fu­ture.”

— The Cana­dian Press

CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

John Greyson; wit­nessed killings

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