To: The Honorable Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs
From: The Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Mississauga - Ontario
Web sites: http://www.10452lccc.com http://www.clhrf.com
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Regarding: A Dilemma of a Canadian-Lebanese Family at the Beirut Airport
Dear: Mr. Cannon
In my capacity as Chairman for both the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC), and the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF), I would like to bring to your kind attention the following sad, inhuman and terrorizing incident that a Canadian Lebanese family was exposed to on Monday June 08/09 at the Beirut airport, hoping to get from our Canadian Government the utmost attention and follow up on all levels, and through all available channels, in a bid that similar unfortunate and illegal incidents would not occur.
A Canadian-Lebanese mother and four children were not allowed to enter Lebanon on Monday June 08/09, and inhumanly forced to return back to Canada. No legal Justification or any kind of explanation was given to the mother who is a Canadian Citizen (Married to a Lebanese Canadian man). The four children are Lebanese-Canadian, they have dual citizenship.
They were held for almost twenty four hours in the Beirut airport and than sent back to Canada. The airport as you already know is fully controlled by Hezbollah and this terrorist group apparently possess totally the decision making process there. The mother was denied from contacting her husband in Mississauga or any of his family members in Lebanon. They were badly dealt at the airport by the security personal, ridiculed, humiliated and accused of treason.
The honorable, MP. for their constituency (Mississauga-Erindale), Robert
Deckert, and his Ottawa office staff were all on top of the case heart and soul,
and through your staff at the Foreign Affairs Ministry the Canadian Embassy in
Beirut was notified, but apparently the short time span did not give any body
the needed room and time to intervene effectively.
Media wise, we raised this human rights issue in Lebanon, but unfortunately our foul cries fell on deaf ears there, as far as the government is concerned.
From the LCCC and the CLHRF, we extend our genuine gratitude for the Canadian Government for its continuous, strong and effective support to the sovereignty, independence and freedom of Lebanon.
Our two non profit groups political adviser Charbel Barakat wrote this below piece, that was circulated on the media in both Canada and Lebanon. It really personifies the dilemma, I would like to share it with you.
Elias Bejjani/ LCCC Chairman
The Unfinished Vacation Trip
By: Chabel Barakat
Christien (9 years) Etian (7 years) Charbel (5 years) and Maria (2 years) had an early farewell party at their school in Mississauga last Friday as their grandma who lives back home in Lebanon insisted they come and visit her for the summer. Their father, Noel, is a Canadian of Lebanese decent married to Janice, a Canadian from Stoney Creek.
Janice visited Lebanon for the first time in the summer of 1996. In 1998, the couple chose to marry and go back to Lebanon to live for a while with Noel’s mom in his hometown Ain-Ebel.
Noel, who studied Fitness and Recreation Leadership at the Humber College, started working as a sports teacher at St Joseph Secondary School in the village. He introduced a new concept in sport and taught the children about the importance of stretching their muscles before and after all activities. He also helped form different levels of soccer, basketball and volleyball teams.
All the kids loved Noel and became involved in sport teams. Every day after school, the soccer field and the adjacent basketball or volleyball fields used to be full of kids of all ages. Parents started to come and practice different types of sports and everybody was happy to share in this new spirit of achievement Noel had added to the village’s kids.
For two years sports and fitness became the goal of the entire village, one of those kids was the late Mississauga Hero Trooper Marc Diab.
Noel was not involved in politics, Janice found a job with the United Nations and they were soon blessed with their first child, Christien. But in May 2000 the Israelis, who used to occupy a strip along the borders of Lebanon, decided to pull their troops out without an agreement with Lebanon.
Under the Syrian hegemony, the Lebanese government refused to assume responsibility for the area. As a result, UNIFIL prepared approximately 9000 troops for deployment in the area in fear of what the terrorist organization Hezbollah would do in the absence of a responsible authority. At the time of the Israeli withdrawal, Hizbollahs leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed in a televised speech that he would “enter their bed rooms and kill them...”
In such an unpredictable situation Noel took his new family to Israel and from there flew back to Canada.
Today, after nine years, Noel thought that it might be a good idea to send his kids to Lebanon to meet their family, especially their grandma, and to spend some time in the country their father loved. He couldn’t leave because he is a contractor who waits for the good weather to make his living, so Janice had to go by herself with the kids.
The whole family was waiting for them and the kids were so excited to see their grandma and all of their aunts and uncles. Their friends at school wished them all the best and their teachers were happy for them to go even before the end of the school year.
The elections in Lebanon went with no problems giving the family more confidence that they had made the right decision. The flight was a bit difficult for Janice and four kids but finally she made it to Beirut Airport on Monday June 08 after 18 hrs of travel from Toronto via Paris. Everybody was excited but they knew that they have to wait to finish all the paperwork before being able to meet the family.
Apparently they had to get a visa at the Airport because they all had Canadian passports so they waited in line but the officer refused to give Janice a visa to enter Lebanon claiming that Noel had flew from Israel back in 2000.
In 1982 the Israelis have claimed that 700,000 Lebanese entered Israel between July and October of the same year. “Eged” the famous Israeli bus company had set a special line between Ben Gurion Airport and the port city of Sidon. If the Lebanese government is trying to punish every one who entered Israel, then half of the Lebanese population will be in jail and mainly the Shiites who form the majority of South Lebanon.
The Lebanese government can not claim anything against the Southern Lebanese people because it was absent for 25 years. If anything, it is the people of South Lebanon who should sue the government for not being by their side to protect them, not the other way around.
The Canadian Embassy was powerless in convincing the Lebanese Airport Authority to facilitate the conditions of the family. The Lebanese “stuff” at the airport did not even provide the family with drinking water or a place to rest after their long day of travel nor were they allowed meet the family that was at the Airport waiting to welcome them. 12 hours later, the kids and their mother had to fly back at 2:00 am to Paris where the French police also investigated why they were not allowed to enter Lebanon.
With this poor family finally back home to Mississauga, we wonder if the government in Lebanon will ever be responsible enough to ensure the practice of human rights on Lebanese territories. Or should the international community, that issued a series of resolutions about Lebanon, continue to put more pressures until things are truly fixed?
** Charbel Barakat
Retired Lebanese Army officer
Author, writer, political commentator, and expert on terrorism
Political advicer for for both the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF), and the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC)
cc: MP. Robert Deckert