Full Text of Testimony by Mr. Elias Bejjani before the Canadian Parliament 


August 1, 2006


Text of the testimony that was supposed to be delivered by Mr. Elias Bejjani, Chairman of the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council and Spokesperson for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation, before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Canadian Federal Parliament in Ottawa, in a session held to look into the current crisis in the Middle East and the Canadian response to the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon.  



Honourable Chairman and Members of the Committee,  

The primary and most important objective for any evacuation operation from a theatre of war is to ensure the safety of those being evacuated by securing the means and methods, as well as the environment, for their safe transfer away from the areas targeted by the hostilities. Anything else becomes a secondary concern and is arguably one detail in the realm of the administrative and the logistical details of such an operation.


This fundamental objective was successfully achieved through the Canadian evacuation operation from Lebanon, whereby thousands of Lebanese Canadians were transferred to safety in a relatively short period of time, from a hostile environment and under very dangerous and complex circumstances. I take this opportunity to declare before your Honourable Committee, loudly and in good conscience, with enormous gratitude and appreciation, and on behalf of the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation, the organizations represented in the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council, and all other members of the Lebanese Canadian community whose opinions, fears, and aspirations we express: THANK YOU to the government of Mr. Harper;  THANK YOU, to Minister MacKay, and thank you to all the Canadian Ambassador in Lebanon, Mr. Louis de Lorimier; THANK YOU to all Canadian officials and security personnel who contributed to the success in this largest operation in the history of Canada.


The evacuation operation that was carried out by the Canadian government was extremely successful according to all applicable considerations and standards for Lebanon and the Middle East region. Those who don’t know Lebanon and have no on-the-ground understanding of the dangerous and complex situation there at the present time, and who have no knowledge of the diversity of groups involved with security on the ground in Lebanon, may see in the operation a number of blemishes, faults and mistakes. Their observations may be factual if their standards of judgement were drawn from Canadian, American or European standards. But the issue is entirely different and their criticisms have in fact become patently unfair and defamatory, or in the best of cases, unrealistic and hypothetical when the operation is measured against a Lebanese and Middle Eastern background.


The world’s superpower, the United States, which has a huge fleet in the Mediterranean and has tremendous influence, as well as various capabilities and means, connections and contacts in the Middle East, has faced a relatively wider array of difficulties and logistical and administrative problems to evacuate its own citizens.


We fully understand the psychological context and the deteriorating situation in terms of security and basic living conditions that the Lebanese Canadians faced against their will. We also understand the terror, frustration and exhaustion they suffered from, and consequently we understand, but do not agree with,  the spontaneous expressions of criticism that some of them directed at the Canadian authorities upon their return to Canada. But what we reject, albeit knowing the source behind it, is the blatant attempt by certain organized groups in Canada to exploit the Lebanese tragedy and portray the Lebanese Canadian community as supportive of Hezbollah and other similar organizations listed on the terrorism list of the Canadian government.


On March 14, 2005, one and one-half million Lebanese citizens from all denominations and walks of life marched peacefully in the streets of Beirut against the Syrian occupation and Hezbollah, in what became known as the “Cedars Revolution”. The vast majority of the Lebanese people want a Lebanon that is free, sovereign, independent, democratic, and free of militias and terrorist organizations. All the Lebanese have demanded, and continue to demand today, the respect for international law and the implementation of all provisions of UN resolution 1559 stipulating the disarming of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the deployment of the Lebanese Army along the borders with Israel, the revival of the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Lebanon, the spreading of the authority of the Lebanese State over its entire territory, in addition to the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with Syria, the delineation of the borders between Syria and Lebanon. In addition to the above provisions we call for the deployment of international deterrent forces on the Lebanese Syrian borders to put an end once and forever for cross-border smuggling of arms.


The Lebanese people, in all their diverse communities, are a peace-loving people.  They thirst to have an independent and free State. They respect and live by the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

Our Lebanese community in Canada, that has found and received all the help and respect in this hospitable country, can be but a pillar of freedoms, peace, security and stability for this beloved country.


Long live Canada and long live Lebanon.

Yours Truly

Elias Bejjani