The Beyond Estimable Sarah Schulman first alerted us all to THIS item
York University environmental professor Justin Podur said he received a call from Loubani about 4 p.m. Friday, telling him Loubani was being arrested by Egyptian police, along with Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, a former Londoner who is a York University professor.
It isn’t the first time Tarek Loubani of London, Ontario, Canada, has found himself in a foreign prison. Loubani, an emergency room physician, was arrested in Egypt on Friday while on his way to Gaza as part of a collaboration between the University of Western Ontario in Canada and Al-Shifa Hospital, his friend Justin Podur told the Toronto Star.
With him was also filmmaker and film professor at Toronto’s York University, John Greyson. Podur got a phone call from the two as they were arrested. Podur said it was a short conversation—he only knows they were arrested, but not why. Canadian diplomats have contacted Egyptian authorities on behalf of the two men, but could not provide the Star with any further details as of Sunday morning.
Loubani was arrested in 2003 in the West Bank as he was protesting the building of a perimeter wall. In an Israeli prison at that time, he wrote a note describing the hardships, and the hunger strike he and his fellow prisoners held. The note, published by the Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement, reads: “As I was up against the wall, with one man stomping on my leg, another bending my arm and another two or three pulling and hitting elsewhere, I caught a glimpse of the faces and entered that other world.
“I can’t do anything now. The guards who were involved all smile when they pass our cell. And all of this over the only act of resistance we can do: going hungry. One thing hasn’t changed though: none of us will be broken.”
Loubani was a voice against federal healthcare cuts last year. He spoke about his experiences working at a refugee clinic; he is quoted in an Occupy article on Facebook as saying: “We are now asked to request preauthorization for patients before providing care. … The idea that the care I provide should be in any way contingent on what an insurance bureaucrat approves is abhorrent.”
Dr. Bill McCauley, a colleague of Loubani’s, told the Toronto Sun: “We don’t know why or where he has been taken.”
Podur told the Star: “We’ve got no idea of their condition or where they are right now.”
Tarek Loubani is a name that’s quite new to me. John Greyson I’ve known very well for quite some time. One of the world’s most important gay film and videomakers his works include the school-set love story Lilies (1996) , the satirical mini-musical about gaybashing The Making of “Monsters” (1991) (a send-up of postmodernism in which Georg Lukas is identified as “the director of Star Wars“), the startling experimental documentary Moscow Does Not Believe in Queers (1986) which concerns the ten days John spent in Moscow as a Canadian delegate to the 1986 Moscow Youth Festival, at which time Rock Hudson’s AIDS diagnosis and death was announced inspiring John to “sample” Ice Station Zebra and visit the notorious tearoom of the Bolshoi with a hidden camera to see if he could find any action. Far from the his usual well-beaten path John also directed four episodes of Queer As Folk . Nicely done but as one would expect sorting little in common with his masterpiece — the AIDS musical Zero Patience (1993)
The question now is whether John’s life and that of his doctor friend can be saved. He’s a video CV.
As noted on the above You Tube clip:
“John Greyson is a video artist and filmmaker who has had 7 films presented at TIFF since 1989, including ‘Urinal, Zero Patience, Lilies and Proteus.’ He won TIFF’s Best Short Film Award in 1991 for ‘The Making of Monsters.’ ‘Lilies’ won the Genie for Best Motion Picture in 1996, as well as the Best Young Director prize at Locarno, and the prize for Best Canadian Film at the Montreal World Film Festival. His most recent feature film, ‘Fig Trees,’ won the Teddy award for best documentary feature film at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival.”
Here he is again:
Here’s a trailer for the film he admires.
Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993) was a singer, songwriter, composer, author, and AIDS activist. He was a significant architect of the response to the AIDS crisis in the United States.
First diagnosed with “Gay related immune deficiency” (GRID) in 1982, Callen quickly became a leader in the response to the epidemic. He was a founding member of the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement among other organizations, and he testified before the President’s Commission on AIDS and both houses of the United States Congress.
Michael told me that his performance as the HIV virus in Zero Patience was the fulfillment of a personal and professional dream. It was an Esther Williams style musical number and he hit a higher note than he ever had in his life
Callen died of AIDS-related complications in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 38.
But he’s still alive to me and so many others. His performance at the 1993 LGBT March on Washington why.
UPDATE FROM SARAH SCHULMAN:
“Ok, Tarek and John have been located. Embassy visited them in prison w their lawyer and they are fine. Whew! Awaiting news about release. Now what about the one thousand dead and thousands of other detainees in Egypt who don’t have foriegn passports and connected friends? The US has to stop supporting this military led bloodbath.”
Egyptian authorities are currently detaining two Canadians, Professor and Filmmaker, John Greyson, and Emergency Physician, Tarek Loubani, 48 hours after their initial arrest.
Egyptian authorities have yet to provide a reason for the ongoing detention of the two Canadians.
“Tarek and John were in Cairo on their way to Gaza” commented Dr. Justin Podur, a friend of the two detained Canadians. “Tarek was continuing a medical collaboration that has been established between the University of Western Ontario and the Emergency Department of Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, while John was conducting preparatory work for a film project in Gaza,” Podur added.
The ongoing detention of the two Canadians is especially concerning in light of the Egyptian military’s ongoing violent crackdown against protesters and journalists.
“We are very concerned about John’s safety” said John’s family members, Cecilia Greyson and Stephen Andrews. “We are confident that the Canadian Embassy in Cairo is doing everything they can to secure their immediate release” they added.
“We recognize that Egypt is going through a painful transition,” said Mohammed Loubani, Tarek’s brother “but arresting a Physician and filmmaker and detaining them without due process is clearly a step in the wrong direction.” He added, “the Egyptian transitional Government has frequently repeated its commitment to democratic values and the rule of law. The continued detention of John and Tarek clearly falls short of that commitment.”
For more information, please contact –
Dr. Justin Podur