What Happened to Khaled, Sarah, and their Family
Khaled Al-Qazzaz is a permanent resident of Canada and is married to Sarah Attia, a Canadian born Engineer and Educator. He is the father of four Canadian children ages 3 to 9. Khaled received his Masters degree in engineering from the University of Toronto in 2003. Khaled and Sarah moved to Egypt in 2005 to start a social innovation project in education. Khaled Al-Qazzaz is an acclaimed educator, youth activist and a human rights champion.
Khaled was never a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was offered a volunteer position in Freedom and Justice Party presidential campaign. He was then appointed as a political staffer at the presidency focusing on the foreign relations portfolio as the liaison with human rights organizations, NGOs and foreign embassies with a particular focus on human rights issues. Khaled was a staffer, bureaucrat and civil servant of a democratically elected government and he exercised his rights to freedom of expression and association peacefully.
Khaled was detained from his office at the presidency on July 3rd, 2013. In the days after July 3, the Egyptian regime refused to acknowledge that it was holding Khaled or to confirm his whereabouts, putting him outside the protection of the law. On the 1st of December 2013, HRW issued a statement accusing the Egyptian government of forcibly disappearing Khaled and 4 others for almost five months. The statement said that Khaled along with 4 other aides “remain detained without any legal basis at an undisclosed location.”
On December 17, 2013 Khaled was moved from the undisclosed location to the maximum security facility of Tora Prison. He was placed in solitary confinement in very difficult conditions for 542 days. Khaled spent his days and nights in solitary confinement in a cramped insect-infested cell slightly larger than a broom closet in one of Egypt’s most notorious prisons. Khaled's health has deteriorated due to the conditions of his detainment and is at risk of permanent paralysis if not provided with appropriate medical care immediately.
Toronto-born Sarah Attia, Khaled’s wife, along with “Friends of Khaled” began a campaign to call on the Canadian and Egyptian governments and the international community to urgently assist in securing Khaled’s immediate return to Canada. Sarah spent 18 months, as a single mother of 4, fighting for her husband’s release. The children, Abdelrahman (9), Amena (7), Fatema (5), and Tahrir (3) suffered considerably during the ordeal. They missed their father and could not understand why he was taken away from them in this way.
Health Deterioration and Release
On October 26, 2014 Khaled was moved to a hospital because of his critical health condition. On December 29, 2014 the Attorney General issued an order for Khaled Al-Qazzaz’s release confirming that his investigation had been closed and that no charges would be proffered. He was released from the hospital on January 11, 2015. During his arbitrary detainment Khaled was never charged and was never part of any trials. - Khaled’s extended exposure to difficult prison conditions resulted in several spinal injuries affecting his neck and lower back. This led to extreme pain, limited movement and gradual immobility of his left side. Several independent Canadian and international physicians, after review, have advised that it is a high risk case and if untreated can lead to permanent paralysis.
Blocked from Coming Home
In February 2015 Sarah and the children travelled to Cairo to be with Khaled during this difficult period and to help facilitate the paperwork needed for his travel. Khaled and the family have attempted to travel twice and both times have been prevented without reason, more recently on April 15, 2015. Both attempts were based on confirmations given to the family that Khaled is not banned for travel.
The children have been once again taken out of their home and school, and the family is living in limbo, not knowing when they will be able to return to Canada and resume their lives.
The Friends of #KQFamily have launched a #Home4School campaign to urge the Canadian government to intervene and make sure that the entire family is home in time for the start of the new school year. The children - Abulrahman, Amena, Fatema and Tahrir, have missed school for long enough