The detention of John Greyson, a filmmaker and prominent supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and Palestinian-Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani has been repeatedly extended for 15-day periods in the weeks since they were thrown in jail. They have been imprisoned for 33 days. No formal charges have been lodged against the two, though the Egyptian government says they are suspected of participating in a plot to attack a police station along with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now supporters of the two have announced they are refusing to eat:
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 16th to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities…
Greyson and Loubani’s detention could be extended up to 2 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.
Greyson and Loubani were in Egypt trying to make their way to Gaza, though turmoil in the country delayed those plans. They were jailed by security forces as the country experienced intense clashes between supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and those in favor of the army.
Canada’s government has voiced concern at the highest levels about the two. But as the Electronic Intifada‘s Ali Abunimah points out, there are other avenues to pressure the Egyptian government over their detention. One Canadian group is urging the government to cut off arms exports to Egypt. And the Toronto Star published an editorial urging Canada to do more to free the two:
Enough. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making discouragingly little headway with muted expressions of diplomatic “concern” about the fate of two Canadians — a physician and a filmmaker — who have been languishing for weeks in an Egyptian jail without explanation or charge. It’s time to channel some outrage.
The military coup that has plunged Egypt into this contempt for due process and the law is a betrayal of its 2011 democratic revolution. It is roiling relations with friendly countries such as Canada and the United States. It is scaring off aid, investment and tourism. And it is condemning Egyptians to yet more violence and instability. That’s the message Harper should be sending, forcefully and publicly, to Cairo’s generals and their political cronies.