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Canadians released from Egypt

    October 07, 2013

    Dr. Tarek Loubani & filmmaker John Greyson have been released from prison in Egypt.

    Thank you to the tens of thousands of Amnesty Interantional supporters who spoke up for their freedom!

    Amnesty International welcomes their safe return to Canada, following an intense period of campaigning backed by Amnesty International members in Canada and around the world.

    Following their release from prison, Tarek and John were temporarily unable to leave Egypt, in spite of no charges having been made, and in the absence of any court order that restricted their freedom to travel. Amnesty International will continue to urge Egyptian authorities to follow international human rights law in the treatment of all Egyptians detained during protests in Egypt.


    Their story: Tarek Loubani and John Greyson's detainment in Egypt

    Tarek and John were detained in August on charges of “violence”, “inciting violence” and “carrying weapons”, as well as “destroying public property”. They had been held alongside hundreds of Egyptians who were arrested during violence in Cairo on August 16th, 2013.

    Tarek Loubani and John Greyson arrived in Egypt on August 15 with the intention of travelling immediately to Gaza, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Tarek Loubani was hoping to build a relationship between the university hospital in Gaza and the hospital that he works for in Canada. John Greyson, a filmmaker, was accompanying him to document the situation in Gaza. On arrival in Egypt the men had to stay in Cairo as the border with Gaza was shut.

    On August 16th, 97 people died in violence in Cairo after protests around Ramsis Square by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, deteriorated into violence. Evidence collected by Amnesty International indicates that some pro-Morsi supporters were heavily armed and used live ammunition against police and local residents who had sided with security forces. However, bystanders and non-violent protesters were also killed in the chaos that ensued.

    Security forces failed to take control of the situation or respond to violence used against them in a measured and responsible way to minimize loss of life. Amnesty International has documented an incident where the security forces shot tear gas inside the Al-Fath mosque leading to the death of at least one woman as a result of suffocation.

    Several pro-Morsi marches seeking to join the main protest at Ramsis Square on 16 August turned into violent confrontations between protesters and local residents, who sought to prevent demonstrators from accessing their neighbourhoods. Victims included Morsi supporters, local residents and members of the security forces.

    Fierce fighting lasted for hours around the Azbakiya Police Station, where scuffles between Morsi supporters and local residents escalated into heavy gun battles between protesters and security forces, supported by local residents. The building was later riddled with bullet holes. Casualties were documented on both sides, mostly caused by gunshot wounds. The head of the Police Station, Brigadier-General Imad Fawzi, reported that two lower-ranking members of the security forces died. Thirty more were injured in the violence.

    Clashes which began shortly after Friday prayers near the al-Fath mosque grew fiercer once a pro-Morsi march arrived onto the 6 October Bridge seeking to join the main protest in Ramsis Square. During the incidents and after, the security forces conducted widespread random arrests of more than 650 persons, including women and children, all on the same broad array of accusations, without consideration for their individual criminal responsibility.

    Background to the current conflict

    Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on 30 June to ask President Mohamed Morsi to call early presidential elections. It was the start of a new wave of protests against his rule. Over the following days, many of the president’s supporters also took to the streets to stage counter-protests. Many of the protests saw clashes between the president’s supporters and opponents.

    On the night of 3 July, Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that the Constitution was suspended and that Mohamed Morsi was no longer president. He said that an interim government would rule the country ahead of new elections. In the weeks after 3 July, political violence led to the deaths of dozens of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters and opponents. In the streets, pro-Morsi protesters faced a series of increasingly bloody crackdowns by the security forces. They led to the deaths of 51 people on 8 July near the Republican Guard Club in Cairo’s Nasr City and over 80 people on 27 July around Rabaa al-Adawiya. At the height of the violence on 14 August, over 480 people died after the security forces dispersed mass sit-ins in Nasr City.