COORDINATING COUNCIL (LCCC)
To: His excellency Mr. Don
Acting Director General for North Africa & Middle East Affairs
Regarding: The Current arrests in occupied Lebanon
We would like to share with your excellency our following concerns concerning the atrocities inflicted on the Lebanese people and the egregious violations of their basic human rights.
1- The Lebanese Republic has endured full Syrian tutelage since 1990, when the country's legitimate government after a bloody Syrian invasion was ousted and its members forced into exile. Hundreds of civilians and Lebanese soldiers perished in a massacre by the invading army. The current government of Mr. Hariri and all those installed in power by Syria since 1990 have served only and solely Syrian interests. The current ruling regime in Lebanon does not represent the wishes nor the aspirations of the Lebanese people, but those of Syria. Until the 35,000 Syrian troops remaining in Lebanon are forced to leave the
country, the Lebanese will never enjoy democracy, prosperity, stability, peace or respect for their human rights, as outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
2- Syrian oppression and persecution mainly target the Christian community through its patriotic parties, movements and leaders who openly oppose the Syrian occupation and champion freedoms. Simultaneously, Syria directly or through the Lebanese-Syrian installed Stalinist regime, has forced one-third of the country's population to immigrate. Meanwhile over 1.5 million illegal Syrian workers invade Lebanon's labor market while the unemployment rates have reached 30%, forcing two-thirds of the Lebanese people to live under the poverty line.
3- Lebanon is currently the only satellite
country left in the whole world, while the occupier, the Syrian dictatorship
is recognized worldwide as the most notorious sponsor and host terrorist country. The
Syrian regime permits numerous terrorist groups to maintain facilities in both Damascus
and in Syrian-occupied Lebanon. Human rights organizations have documented Syria's
unrelenting suppression of free speech and assembly, torture of prisoners, and brutal
persecution of political dissidents. Syria's actions are in complete contradiction to
Canada's values of freedom and democracy.
4- Since the 5th of August 2001, hundreds of Christian Lebanese activists, including teenagers, students, lawyers, journalists, engineers, physicians, prominent political opposition leaders, and suspected opponents of the Syrian occupation have been arbitrarily arrested by military intelligence without any legal justification whatsoever. The majority of the detainees were attacked and badly assaulted by Syrian & Lebanese intelligence agents in front of the Justice Ministry in Beirut during a civilized and peaceful demonstration. Numerous news agencies taped and aired live horrible scenes. Among those arrested for alleged and fabricated involvement in anti-government activities and opposing the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon are General Nadim Latif, a leading member of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and Dr. Tawfiq al-Hindi, a senior member of the Lebanese Forces (LF) and two journalists. During the same campaign, scores of young men and women were arrested, reportedly at their homes or while distributing leaflets or attending meetings. All are said to be detained incommunicado. They are at risk for torture and unfair trials. Arrests are said to be continuing, in what appears to be a mass roundup of LF and FPM members.
One European reporter described the execution of the Nazi-like campaign arrests as follows: Tens of black-shirted plain clothesmen ruthlessly, assaulted hundreds of peaceful protesters They also roughed up Lebanese Army troops and police when they attempted to stop the beatings. Witnesses stated that the scuffles flared around the Justice palace for three hours in central Beirut before troops and red-berated Lebanese riot police managed to smuggle the protesters away from the savage black-shirts. The clash came as authorities fine-tuned their charges against opposition detainees to stop a snowballing uproar over Lebanon's alleged drift to an army-ruled police state. Beirut authorities alleged that the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement have been conspiring to partition Lebanon into sectarian federal states, wagering on a scene-setting Israeli military strike. These fabricated accusations have shaped up from army alleged investigations, which also claimed the LF and the FPM were scheming to fragmentize the nation's fighting machine to coordinate with the hoped-for Israeli blow to enforce the partition. Several parliament members shrugged off all charges as a poor attempt by the regime to justify the 'huge blunder' of staging the biggest wave of mass arrests since 1975 without legal grounds. The protesting legislators charged separately that the arrests were evidence that the army's intelligence branch was scheming to oust Premier Hariri's government and install a military junta in power.
5- Amnesty international in a press release issued on August 9/2001, verbatim stated: "Amnesty International believes that those arrested may have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association, and may be prisoners of conscience. All are said to be held at the Ministry of Defense Detention Center in al-Yarze, in the capital, Beirut, where torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners is routine. Many of the detainees are believed to be facing trial by the Military Court in Beirut, whose procedures are deeply flawed and fall seriously short of international standards for fair trial. Ten of them, all students, were brought before the Military Court on 8 August and convicted of "distributing leaflets harming the reputation of the Syrian army" and "defaming the president of the Lebanese republic." They were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Eight other student members of the LF and FPM were acquitted. A 16-year-old boy, identified as Lolita Kashar, was referred to a juvenile court on the same charges."Amnesty International in its 2001 report on Lebanon stated: "There were some reports of torture and ill-treatment, including police brutality. Methods of torture reported included sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, psychological torture, beating, electric shocks and Farruj (the chicken) where the victim is strapped to a revolving wooden bar resembling a roasting spit and beaten."
6- It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Security Council Resolution 520 calls for the "strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon." By demanding Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, these opposition members are merely pressing for the full implementation of the mandates of the Security Council. Moreover, the arrests of these individuals are a brutal assault on the Lebanese people and their right of political expression.
7- The Beirut regime has blinded itself to the fact that Lebanon's people are proud and will not kneel, but to God himself, and will never accept anything less than freedom and justice for all regardless of the price. The regime refuses to acknowledge the true message of freedom and liberty which is the cornerstone upon which Lebanon was founded. It had been engraved not
only in Lebanon's holy ground for the last 6000 year, but also in the soul of every freedom-loving Lebanese. The regime has blinded itself to the fact that Lebanon once hailed as a haven for the persecuted and of democracy, tolerance and multiculturalism would seize to exist without the Lebanese Christians. If the Lebanese Christian Community is marginalized, the distinguishable Lebanese identity wbe completely eradicated.
1-The Syrian dictatorship forced on its Lebanese puppet government tens of unbalanced and unfair treaties through which the Syrian hegemony has encroached upon every facet of Lebanese life from the kindergarten to the parliament.
2- Lebanese Forces (LF) and Free Patriotic Members (FPM), as well as members of other political groups who oppose the Syrian occupation are routinely arrested, often as they engage in legitimate political activities critical of the authorities. They are detained incommunicado, sometimes for weeks on end, which puts them at greater risk of torture and ill-treatment. Confessions extracted under duress have often been used as the main evidence in trials of political detainees. Former detainees at the Ministry of Defense Detention Center have stated that they were routinely tortured during interrogation. Methods of torture frequently used against LF and FPM members include severe beating, food and sleep deprivation and hanging by the wrists, which are tied behind the back (known as Ballanco).
3- Contrary to popular belief and to what the Syrian propaganda machine is trying to instill in people's minds, Lebanese different religious communities have been more united than ever before. The latest meeting between Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt only confirms this point. Thus, the need for Syria is absolutely unwarranted.
4-The Syrian President Dr.Bashar Al Assad is no different from his late father, contrary to what the Western media is leading us to believe. The Old Guard is still the master of Syria's foreign policy and is not about to change unless there is a drastic turnaround in U. S foreign policy towards Syria and all of the other rogue states.
5-The Lebanese people are wondering where are the tranquility, common living, and internal peace alleged milieus, the Beirut puppet/Syrian appointed regime has been foolishly bragging about since 1990?. The subservient regime encourages fanatic and non-Lebanese groups to threaten the general public with guns and mass massacres without any legal deterrent.
6- The Beirut regime does not represent the Lebanese people's hopes or aspirations and does not champion national unity, liberation from foreign troops, common living, democracy or freedom of any kind. at the same all Lebanon's officials including the three presidents, Parliament and government are appointed by Syria against the will of the majority of the Lebanese people.
7- It has become a routine escape mechanism
practice for the Beirut puppet regime to instigate confusion about outside conspiracies.
The aim is to shift public focus from the disastrous economical crisis people are
encountering on a daily basis. It has become a routine practice for the authorities also
to use excessive force against innocent Lebanese citizens any time they express any kind
of concern for freedom, liberation and justice.
The LCCC call on the American Adminstration to:
1- Use its worldwide connections and influence to secure an immediate and unconditional release of all the Lebanese detainees, who are prisoners of conscience arrested because of their involvement in legal human rights and patriotic issues.
2- Pressure the Beirut and Damascus regimes to honor the detainees' human rights and assure that they are being well-treated, not tortured or ill-treated; At the same time, secure fair trials for those charged.
3-Urge the Beirut authorities to allow immediate access to the detainees' families, lawyers and whatever medical care they may require.
4- Pressure the Beirut government to ensure that civilians are not be tried by Military Courts.
5- Support unconditionally and fully the
Lebanese opposition in its peaceful quest for the implementation of UN Resolution
520. Openly call for an end to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
6-Immediately end all aid to Damascus and its satellite regime in Beirut.
7- Use all of its diplomatic powers to assure that Human Rights are honored in occupied Lebanon.
8- Make the Canadian participation in the Francophone Summit Conference (to be held in Beirut, October this year) conditional with Lebanon's and Syria's regimes' full respect to Human Rights, general freedoms and release of all Lebanese detained arbitrarily in both countries.
On behalf of the Lebanese American Community, and more importantly on behalf of those who have been imprisoned in Lebanon for expressing their point of view, we ask you to condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.
LCCC President & Media Chairman