Justice for all, Pardon for all!!
By: Elias Bejjani
May 25/2005

Thanks to our youth, pillars of the miraculous peaceful "Cedars Revolution," and to our Diaspora's hardworking activists, Lebanon has drawn in sympathy, focus and attention from the free world and the United Nations. They all rushed for its rescue after years of international - regional indifference and abandonment.

Lebanese from all walks of life, all regions and all communities have joined forces and keenly started a long journey for rebuilding their country and reclaiming its confiscated leading role after thirty years of savage, ruthless and Stalinist Syrian occupation.

Opposition leadership which enjoys the confidence and support of the majority of the people has been collectively working firmly to dismantle the oppressive security and secretive intelligence state that Syria and its local installed puppets and mercenaries have erected to enslave the country and abort all liberation movements. Syrian occupation has viciously erected numerous psychological artificial barriers of fear among the country's communities, religions, denominations and social classes in a bid to divide and conquer.

In the midst of these positive milieus of returning freedom and democracy, cries for justice came loudly from many individuals, groups and communities that for different reasons and on account of varied backgrounds were exposed to brutal injustice, criminal exile, cruel oppression, arbitrary detention and atrocious humiliation. Lebanon's judicial system has been badly manipulated and abused for fabricating false cases against all those whom the occupier and its local puppets sensed were a threat for their ongoing occupation.

Lebanese filled with a spirit of reconciliation, patriotism, unity, forgiveness and tolerance welcomed with open arms the UN investigation team entrusted to unveil mysteries lying behind the criminal assassination of the late Prime Minister Raffic Hariri. In the same realm, numerous MP'S with different political affiliations initiated a judicial - public campaign for the release of Dr. Samir Geagea, arbitrarily imprisoned leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF).

General Michel Aoun returned peacefully from exile with both former Ministers in his cabinet, Issam Abu Jamra and Edger Maalouf, as well as many Lebanese army officers, activists and opposition figures. General Aoun visited Dr. Geagea in his jail in a genuine gesture of reconciliation and solidarity. The Christian LF patched differences up with its Druze foe, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), and joined forces on the coming parliamentary election tickets.

The case of Lebanese arbitrarily detained in Syrian jails was reopened on official levels as well as the case of the missing and kidnapped. In Beirut reconciliation took place between the Muslim and Christian communities. Sunni clergymen and political leadership waged a campaign demanding judicial pardon for the Dinnieh and for Majdel Anjar prisoners. They also cried foul in regards to the financial rights of what once was known as "Lebanon's Arabic Army."

In Baalbeck many families demonstrated, calling for an amnesty for their relatives who are charged with drug trafficking. Even a Palestinian PLO leader in Lebanon, Sultan Abu Al Enien, has called on the Lebanese government to include the judicially wanted Palestinians in the general amnesty decree in the making.

Sadly, the only Lebanese segment which has been fully excluded from all public cries for justice are members of the former South Lebanon Army (SLA) and their families who fled to Israel in the year 2000 in the aftermath of the Israeli's withdrawal from South Lebanon in accordance with UN Resolution 425.

It is worth mentioning that members of this victimized segment come from Muslim, Christian and Druze affiliations. They were brutally exposed to fabricated biased charges and folkloric trials as was documented by numerous reputable human rights international organizations and free world countries. More than seventy former SLA members were sentenced mostly in absentia to death and hard labor.

Why is this discriminatory, disgraceful exception made? Why are all politicians, dignitaries, clergy, leaders, MP'S and officials avoiding this humanitarian, patriotic and social dilemma that effects all of Lebanon's communities?

Meanwhile leadership in Lebanon and neighboring countries is fully aware of the injustice that has been systematically inflicted on SLA members, their families and many Lebanese southern opposition figures. For the record, SLA members and the residents of what used to be known "the Southern Security Zone" had refused to leave their land, houses and property. They courageously defended their country, its national flag and its dignity although Lebanon's successive governments abandoned them for 25 years and left them to face their fate on their own.

Syria and its Lebanese mercenaries, politicians, officials and military militias all took part in a plot of organized corruption and dismantling that targeted all Lebanon's institutions, especially the judiciary that was "Syrianized", politicized and turned into a taming tool for subduing and muffling citizens, leaders and groups that opposed the Syrian occupational-imposed status quo.
Now after the Syrian yoke has been lifted and Lebanon has regained its freedom, there are no more excuses left to honor any of the biased judicial sentences, verdicts or charges that falsely and vindictively targeted all persecuted victims, especially ex-members of the SLA who were forced to flee Lebanon to Israel and many other countries.

We call on Lebanon's officials, politicians and clergy to witness for the truth, adopt heroic initiatives and advocate bravely for including all SLA ex- members in any future national amnesty decree.

Lebanon--as small as is its area--is so accommodating of all its children. Yes, Lebanon can with love, hope and faith embrace all of them, protect their dignity, work on justice to prevail and produce milieus of freedom and tolerance.

None of Lebanon's mosaic, multicultural communities or individuals can solely color the country with their particular images. All have an obligation to forge an initiative of national conciliation that would be a long lasting one and in which the ex-SLA members will be embraced.

Let us pray that Almighty God grants our leaders and officials wisdom and faith to rule with justice and conscience.

Let us pray that all those Lebanese who were treated with injustice will be comforted and relieved.

Let us all hope that justice will prevail and the SLA members will be included in the amnesty decree in the making.

Elias Bejjani
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
E.Mail phoenicia@hotmail.com