Anniversary of the Two Martyrs
By: General Michel Aoun
(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)

Independence day comes again this year and Lebanon is still devoid of its Independence. Independence and its national representatives were martyred under the Syrian's alleged friendship and brotherhood, while those who claim to be its legitimate guardians have infringed upon its sovereignty. Under the current circumstances in Lebanon, celebrating Independence Day is exactly like celebrating a death anniversary: prayers and flowers for the dead, contemplation without joy, and hope for Lebanon's resurrection without despair.

On this day, one can't separate Renee Moawad's martyrdom from the martyred independence of Lebanon. In fact, this day is a remembrance for two martyrs. My address today is not intended to honor the event of independence, or the remembrance of an old friendship, or a consolation following a dispute. It is a statement of witnessed history--historical facts. It is an act of witness for Renee Moawad, the independence martyr.

Moawad and I shared a common understanding for Lebanon. Our differences were in the realm of esteem for the status quo and solutions. Moawad went to Taef with an M.P. status, and returned as president for the country. He tried to exceed the restrained role imposed on his presidency and reach out for dialogue and a peaceful solution to the national crisis. President Moawad paid with his own life for the differences between the reality of the status quo and his own noble ideals.

The occupying power wanted him to be a compliant, subservient puppet official. When he refused and resisted he was murdered. The puzzling side of the crime is the silence that surrounds it, with of course the exception of gossip that targeted Moawad's friends and not his enemies.

It is well known that Moawad became the President of Lebanon as a result of an Arabic and international agreement. He was killed while under strict, heavy Syrian protection. The crime was so obvious in its explicit objective, although all those who elected Moawad and participated in Al Taef Accord kept silent. Concealing this crime only escalates suspicions surrounding the actual identity of the well-known assailants.

The same murderers justified the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel by citing political hostility. What is their excuse in murdering Moawad? Why do local and international powers allow political crime to govern Lebanon, and what logic justifies their inhuman actions? What is behind the silence around the assassination objectives, and why the persistence in deception and misleading information?

With the remembrance of these two martyrdoms, we remember hordes of dead martyrs, those thousands and thousands crippled by war, and those who remain imprisoned today. Independence Day is currently a painful remembrance, but at the same time, an imperative lesson for us and for those who come after.