Media Release:
The UALM Wholeheartedly Commends the Australian Parliament for Its Stance on Lebanon by: UALM Press Office on 3/15/2005
Canberra, Australia: The United Australian Lebanese Movement (UALM) wholeheartedly commends the Australian Parliament for it support of Lebanon Freedom, Sovereignty and Independence.
On Monday 14th of March 2005 an interstate delegation from the UALM travelled to Australia’s capital and met with many of the parliamentary speakers before and after the passage of a parliamentary motion condemning the assassination of former Lebanese PM Mr Rafik Harriri and calling for Lebanon’s freedom from the Syrian occupation.
During question time, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer stated “the people power emerging in Lebanon, sometimes called the ‘Cedar Revolution,’ which is leading to the Syrian forces being withdrawn from Lebanon, which we are delighted about.”
Three speakers from each the Liberal and Labor party spoke on a motion; MP for Parramatta Julie Owens (ALP) who moved the motion stated “While Australians to their core, the Australian Lebanese communities, both Christian and Muslim, carry in every fibre of their being a deep love of their homeland and an ache for a free, independent Lebanon. They want what we in Australia take for granted: a country with its own voice, free of external manipulation.”
MP Michael Johnson (LIB) member for Ryan followed went on the record saying “The Lebanese people must be given the opportunity to vote freely, without this foreign occupying power casting a shadow across their ballot papers. It is pleasing to read in today’s press that an initial movement of Syrian troops has taken place. Let us hope that this is the first sign of continuing and complete Syrian evacuation from Lebanon.”
MP Daryl Melham (ALP) member Banks who seconded the motion stated, “Lebanon is one of 15 present day countries comprising what is considered to be the cradle of humanity. By linking together here in Australia—the government and the opposition—we send a bipartisan message to the players in the Middle East that we want to see a peaceful Lebanon where people can coexist and can be a beacon for the rest of the Middle East”
Member for Casey Tony Smith (LIB) was the next speaker and expressed with vigour “In the aftermath of the terrible assassination of Rafik Hariri we have seen a popular uprising in Lebanon against the Syrian occupation. We have seen a thirst for free elections and a growing democratic spirit. As previous speakers have said, it is imperative that all efforts
are made to support this fledgling pro-democracy movement in Lebanon and to reinforce what is a growing momentum right throughout the Middle East.”
Mr Kelvin Thomson the member for Wills (ALP) mentioned his active involvement in the rallies held across Australia by the Lebanese community and stated “in Melbourne I had the privilege of addressing a rally on Thursday, 3 March at St Georges Road in North Fitzroy. The aims of that rally were to demand the immediate and total withdrawal of Syrian military forces and intelligence apparatus from Lebanon; to vehemently denounce the barbaric and cowardly assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other innocent people”
The final speaker was the member for Wentworth Mr Malcolm Turnball who was eloquent in his support and in re-affirming the stance of the government “The Australian government—and, I am pleased to hear, the opposition—strongly support the independence, sovereignty and national unity of Lebanon. We are all united in supporting the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon and the holding of free elections—free from the pressure of outside military forces.”….”The tragedy of Lebanon is that for decades—some would say millennia—it has been the battleground for forces much larger and stronger than the people of Lebanon itself and with quite disparate agendas. UN resolution 1559, which previous speakers have commented upon, calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, which in practical terms means the Syrians; it also calls for the disarming of militias, which in practical terms means Hezbollah”
In a time when the whole world is looking at Lebanon as a beacon of Freedom and Democracy in the Middle East, the Australian Government has aligned itself with the United Nations, the European Union, United States, and France, the rest of the International community in calling for the complete Freedom, Sovereignty and Independence of Lebanon. A stance for which the Australian Lebanese and wider Australian community are proud of and is just another reminder of why they are proud to call Australia Home.
**For more information please contact the UALM Media Officer, Charbel Khouri on 02 9687 0518 or 0411 868 222.
The United Australia Lebanese Movement