Significant Relations' at the Camille Chamoun Stadium
By: General Michel Aoun

(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)

The bloody confrontation at the Camille Chamoun Stadium between the Lebanese and Syrians during the Arab Athletic Tournament was a prime event. The government muzzled the press to prevent media reports of the incident, although a Lebanese soldier was killed, scores of citizens were injured, and vandalism to stadium property and cars was extensive. Silencing the media does not muffle the truth or change the fact that the incident occurred. A thorough analysis of all the aspects of this altercation should be undertaken.

It is a matter of sheer ignorance to attribute what happened to mere "athletic misconduct" that might take place in any other country. Clashes between Lebanese and Syrian soccer fans is not unusual when their soccer teams compete, no matter whose conduct is at fault. But clashing again on the second day with all the Lebanese fans and the Jordanian soccer team on one side, and the Syrians on the other, during a Syrian-Jordanian competition is a most unusual incident. This unusual occurrence raises serious questions that go far beyond justifications given by simple-minded occupation agents, opportunists or collaborators. It is common athletic practice under normal circumstances for Lebanese soccer fans to be divided in their support between both the Syrian and the Jordanian teams, but what is not common was the support on this particular day, of all the Lebanese fans for the Jordanian team.

The actual crisis is between two people, not simply between two teams. The Syrians are occupying Lebanon, confiscating freedoms, infringing on Lebanese rights, boldly injuring their dignity and assaulting all that is dear to each and every one of them.

The Lebanese citizen is simply asking: while illegal competition in the labor market continues, will it now be a common practice for the Lebanese citizen to require a work permit to work in his own country, while work is freely provided to foreigners? Some are saying: if the regime would have the courage to publish crime statistics, showing the nationality of the criminals, the public would then be able to connect a certain nationality to most criminal activity.

If we look thoroughly at the powers given to the Syrians in Lebanon, what conclusions would the Lebanese people make? It is difficult not to observe and feel the ongoing infringements on Lebanese individual rights through arbitrary arrest, torture, oppression, humiliation, kidnapping and disappearance to notorious Syrian detainment camps and jails.

At administrative levels in government, it is well known that the judiciary has become a means of political oppression, instead of providing legal guarantees and immunity to the victims of this oppression. Foreign interference is the foundation of these despicable practices. Bribery on both personal and institutional levels, beginning with checkpoints and going right through to the detainment centers, is bleeding the Lebanese into a state of atrocious poverty. At the higher levels of administration, we hear intoned the lamentable "God bless the departed Lebanese autonomy" now nonexistent on all levels of life: political, financial, administrative, security and so on.
Occupants, agents and subservient people: The Lebanese citizens are not in the palaces of the rulers where you meet and cajole one another in "significant relations." The Lebanese, in their wisdom and maturity were to be found in the stadium building their own "significant relations." Alas, if you could understand this reality, we could go our separate, peaceful ways.

August 8/1997