The Identity Card Crime!!
By: Elias Bejjani

The newly appointed Lebanese regime has declared that its prime mission is to erect a state of law and equality. In this context the justice portfolio in its first government was assigned to Dr. Joseph Chaaoul, an honest, well-experienced Judge. Can Chaaoul make any difference while the whole country is still facing apparent political, feudal and sectarian chaos? Can he impose justice while foreign powers still confiscate the country’s free decision making process?

Is it possible for the millions of Lebanese living in Diaspora to forget the way the Hrawi-Hariri regime dealt with them? How could they, after all the atrocities they were exposed to? The regime officials have been working each in accordance to an assigned role, against the will of their people. The apparent plan in regards to the Lebanese in Diaspora has not been transparent, if not suspicious. The majority of the Lebanese in Diaspora are under the impression that the Lebanese regime aims to neutralize their huge capabilities. A plan apparently was, and still is implemented through the customized ministry for this purpose, the Ministry for Emigrants.

The fist phase in this plan was to weaken the Lebanese Cultural Union, and then divide it into sub-groups according to sectarian basis. The plan has been executed very well through the help of some opportunistic Diaspora dignitaries. Practically, at the present time, the Union as an organization does not exist. The majority of the patriotic Lebanese emigrants abandoned it and lost any hope in its role. Those who stayed, mostly for personal interests, have divided themselves into two groups. Both work against the will of the emigrants and under the Lebanese regime’s umbrella. Although on the surface, both groups pretend to be enemies, in fact they are one, and have nothing to do with the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the emigrants. One group is under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the second under the Ministry for the emigrants.

It is a known that all reigns in Lebanon, with no exception and since 1946, have always transgressed the rights of the Lebanese living in Diaspora. They wanted their money and support, but continuously denied their legal right in getting back their father’s and grandfather’s Lebanese citizenship. The worst infringement inflicted on the approximately one million Lebanese who were forced to leave Lebanon during the last 18 years was committed by the Hrawi-Hariri ex-regime.

Two years ago numerous newspapers in Lebanon and in Diaspora published an unconfirmed piece of news, indicating that the Hariri government issued a secret decree effecting badly the recent Lebanese emigrants. The alleged decree made it a must to those Lebanese who still hold their Lebanese citizenship and live in Diaspora, to go personally to Lebanon, and change their identity cards within ten years. Those who fail to do so, still according to the alleged decree, will lose their right in the Lebanese citizenship. The Hariri government neither confirmed nor denied the alleged decree.

The Canadian-Lebanese Human rights Federation sent an open letter to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the Lebanese Embassy in Ottawa on 24/1/1998 asking for an official stance in this regard. The letter was published in Al-mustakbal” Lebanese weekly newspaper issued in Montreal and in other Diaspora Lebanese media means. The Hariri Government never answered, or took any action to clear the confusion.

Now with the new Hoss government, who is apparently negating most of Hariri’s policies and malpractice and claiming openness, we are encouraged to raise the same question again. Is there any such a decree? And if not, why does the government not make it possible for the Lebanese emigrants who still have their citizenship, to exchange their identity cards in the Lebanese embassies and Consulates widespread all over the world?

Technology wise it is not difficult at all with the latest revolutionary advances in computers to create a safe and highly effective system designed for this purpose. It is a crime to force one million Lebanese to travel personally to Lebanon to be able to exchange their identity cards. This matter is not practical, or fair, for so many reasons, not the least its financial burden, that the majority of the one million emigrants are unable to afford. It is time for the Lebanese living in Lebanon to break out of their sectarian and feudal fears; it is time for the Lebanese regime to recognize the rights of the Lebanese living in Diaspora, practically and authentically, not rhetorically only. It is time to address the Diaspora’s dilemmas openly and impartially.

We ask Dr. Joseph Chaaoul, Ministry for Justice, and Mr. Anwar Al-Khalil, Minister for Emigrants and Dr. Salim Hoss, in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs, to prove their credibility, impartiality, patriotism and freedom from foreign influence. We ask them to address the identity card issue with courage and nationalism once and forever.

Long Live Free Lebanon
Canada, Toronto