We invite you to download this exclusive duet performance featuring celebrated cellist Rebecca Foon and pianist, community activist and Art Threat contributor Stefan Christoff. The track was recorded one winter night at L’Envers, a loft performance space in Montreal’s Mile End.
This live recording features a collaboration written for the upcoming album Duets for Abdelrazik, currently in production at Hotel2Tango studios in Montreal. Set for a 2012 release, Duets for Abdelrazik aims to express musical solidarity for the ongoing struggle of Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Sudanese-Canadian jailed on the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Sudan.
The album will feature duets with myself on piano in collaboration with various celebrated Montreal and New York City musicians, including composer Sam Shalabi, saxophonist Matana Roberts and cellist Rebecca Foon. Duets for Abdelrazik aims to assert sonic solidarity from artists for Abdelrazik’s ongoing struggle for justice against incredible odds.
Abousfian Abdelrazik — like Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin and Maher Arar, other victims of a Canadian program of outsourcing torture — was jailed on the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) while on a visit to Sudan, according to documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is difficult to describe in words the horror of torture and the determination sustained by Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, against state infrastructures of injustice, so in music Duets for Abdelrazik attempts to capture Abdelrazik’s struggle in Montreal’s cultural history.
Abdelrazik was never charged but was beaten, threatened and tortured during two periods of detention. In this context, Abdelrazik was interrogated by CSIS officials, and separately by Sudanese and French intelligence agents and the FBI. Eventually released and cleared of all suspicion by Sudan, and even by the RCMP and CSIS in late 2007, his many attempts to return home to Montreal were repeatedly blocked. After years in exile, in an attempt to draw attention to his plight, Abdelrazik went public with his story in April 2008 and was granted “temporary safe haven” in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum.
Abdelrazik stayed in the Canadian embassy for fourteen months as Canadian officials continued to find ways of keeping him out of the country. In Canada, grassroots activists via Project Fly Home mobilized pressure in an attempt to force the Harper government to facilitate Abdelrazik’s return to Canada.
Eventually, the combination of Abdelrazik’s determination and relentless grassroots pressure brought about his return to Canada on June 27, 2009, under the weight of a decision by the Federal Court of Canada. Abdelrazik was flown to Montreal and reunited with his family at last.
Abdelrazik now faces the second phase of his struggle: to seek accountability (bringing those responsible to justice, making sure this doesn’t happen again to anyone else); and to get his name off the UN’s 1267 list — that is, getting his life back to normal.
In solidarity with Abdelrazik’s ongoing struggle we are releasing this live recording in collaboration with Art Threat to give people an impression of the beautiful music that will be featured on the upcoming Duets for Abdelrazik album.
For more information on Abdelrazik’s struggle & Project Fly Home visit peoplescommission.org/en/abdelrazik.
Photo by Elsa Jaber.