Under Pressure: the impact of Syrian refugees on Lebanon

country-lbnThe continuous deterioration of the security in Syria as a result of the ongoing crisis has forced thousands of Syrians to flee to Lebanon. According to UNHCR estimates, by December 2015 Lebanon will host 1,846,150 Syrian refugees. In 2014, UNHCR had 1,435,840 Syrian refugee registered with them. Lebanon population is around 4.3 million. By the end of 2015, the Syrian refugees will represent around 43% of Lebanon population. The figures can be higher, many refugees sneak into the country without getting registered by the authorities.

Recently, the Lebanese government has established an inter-ministerial crisis cell, and imposed restrictions at the borders. These measures will not deter Syrians from entering the country. These scary numbers of refugees are putting a burden on Lebanese economy and will play a major role in Lebanon demographics in the future. Add to that, the misery these refugees are living in.

Lebanese had experience with refugees. They know how their generosity and the policy of opening doors to people in need backfired and dragged Lebanon into a civil war. During Arab-Israeli war, Lebanon opened its doors to Palestinian refugees. It is to note that currently, Lebanon is home to 1.5 million Palestinian refugee. Some regional and international powers decided to arm the Palestinians to wage a war against Israel from Lebanon. This decision dragged Lebanon into a civil war. Some might decide to do the same with the Syrian refugees in the future. Looking at what is happening between the two Muslim sects (Sunnite and Shiite) in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, it is inevitable that the Syrian refugees (mostly Sunnite) will be used to fuel a religious war in Lebanon.

Lebanon is in danger of entering a new civil war, it’s the duty of the international community to take charge of Syrian refugees crisis in Lebanon. Its their duty to avoid repeating the Palestinian example. The international community must take charge and issue initiatives to either end the Syrian civil war or accept these refugees in their countries. Lebanon, in its current political and economic crisis, can’t handle this amount of refugees.

By the end of 2015, the number of all refugees in Lebanon will be more than 50% of Lebanon population. A major disaster is in the making.

Syria killed my father

“Syria Killed my father”, Kamal Jumblatt was killed in 1977 by Syrian intelligence. Since that date, his son, Walid, “was forced” and “Based on my conviction that I am an Arab nationalist and based on the threats that were surrounding Lebanon, I had no choice but to go to Syria and to seal a deal, a political settlement, with those who assassinated Kamal Jumblatt,” became a Syrian ally till few months before the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (in 2005).

It was interesting to listen to Walid Beyk. He laid down before the court a political testimony in Hariri assassination case. Walid words made me remember how his “deal” with those who killed his father affected Lebanon, its people, sovereignty and independence. His words took me back to those dark days, where people were killed because they didn’t believe in “Arab Nationalism”. It made me wonder what is the difference between the actions of “Arab Nationalists” during Lebanon civil war and ISIS actions in Bilad al-sham? Getting killed by a bullet is different from getting killed by a knife? Getting your head chopped by an axe is different from having your through cut by a knife?

Let’s see what Walid Jumblatt forgot to mention how his “deal” with those who killed his father was translated on the ground. This is just a short specimen:

– After the assassination of Kamal Jumblatt, his supporters, proceeded to commit revenge killings against the Christians of the Chouf which left 250 civilians dead.

– In 1978, Walid Jumblatt PSP artillery joined their Syrian allies in bombarding the Christian region of Beirut who were under siege for 100 days.

– In April 81, Syrian troops in Aramoun (jumblatt region) bombarded the East Beirut at a time when students were leaving schools to head home. Casualties and injuries were in the Hundreds.

–  July 14, 1982, Jumblatt PSP ambushed a Lebanese army detachment. Fourteen Lebanese regular soldiers in the attack, and in riposte the artillery units of Jumblatt’s PSP shelled on 18th, 20th and 23rd the Christian-held neighbourhoods of East Beirut (in which over 30 people were killed and 600 injured, mostly civilians).

– September 1983, the famous ethnic cleansing of Christians from the Chouf. The attack was led by Jumblatt PSP and backed by various “Arabist Nationalist” and the Syrian army. Results: over 1,200 killed and butchered and Christians were uprooted from their homes and villages.

The list is long. Walid Jumblatt failed to tell the court the scale of death and destruction that his “deal” with those who killed his father brought with it. Between 1977 till 2005, Walid Jumblatt was a Syrian agent, a Syrian puppet, served the Syrian occupation, lead wars and massacres for them, gained politically from his deal….

Wasn’t it better for him to stand with his father wishes and political ideas (his father opposed Syrian involvement in Lebanon) than killing thousands of Lebanese in the name of “Arab Nationalism”?

Où son mes filles ? Noyées ?

In August 1989, at dawn, Syrian gunners tried to sink a vessel that used to shuttle people between the port of Jounieh and port of Larnaca in Cuprus. They fired dozens of rockets into the sea. Two Lebanese sisters, aged 17 months and 3 years, drowned when a boat ferrying 16 passengers out to the hovercraft capsized in the waves churned up by the barrage. The following is a french article published by Lebanese french newspaper L’orient Le Jour, written by the mother of the two girls. R.I.P Maya & Rouba Azar.

Mon souvenir le plus marquant de la guerre civile en une dizaine de phrases ?
Tous les textes du monde ne suffiraient pas pour décrire le bouleversement que ma famille a vécu.
La nuit du 5 août 1989, Nabil mon mari, nos deux filles Rouba (3 ans) et Maya (17 mois), et moi, tentions de fuir l’enfer libanais via le port de Jounieh vers Larnaca. C’était la soi-disant « guerre de libération » entre l’armée libanaise commandée par Michel Aoun et l’armée syrienne.
On nous informe qu’on est forcés de prendre la petite chaloupe pour rejoindre l’hydroglisseur qui s’était éloigné du port à cause des bombes. On était 14 à bord. Quelques moments plus tard, une bombe tombe dans l’eau et nous propulse de la chaloupe vers la mer.
Rouba était dans mes bras et Maya dans ceux de mon mari. Sous la force des vagues et du choc, elles sont arrachées de nos bras. Des secouristes me repêchent de la mer et me déposent sur l’hydroglisseur. Je ne savais plus où était ma famille. Pleurs, cris, hystérie, vomissements.
On m’informe ensuite que les enfants et leur père ont été secourus et sont restés à Kaslik. J’appelle à mon arrivée à Larnaca et j’apprends de mon mari qu’on lui avait dit que les enfants étaient avec moi.
Mes filles perdues, noyées en pleine nuit dans la mer sous les bombes. Comment peut-on oublier ? Comment peut-on pardonner ?
Guerre de libération ? Guerre de fous !

Joumana AZAR

The Flower Seller

The Flower Seller paintings was painted in 1941 and depicts a young woman kneeling with a very large bundle of calalilies. In Lebanon we have different flower sellers. Ours are young kids who are forced to sell flowers on the streets. Our flower sellers are not something you look at and enjoy. Our flower sellers are a real tragedy. The tragedy of displacement, poverty, social destruction, child abusing, child prostitution …. The latest victim is Fatima, the flower seller in Saida. Fatima was 11 years old when she passed away. She died in a car accident. Fatima was forced to leave her home in Syria. She dropped her dreams at the door step of her house in Syria looking for safety in Lebanon. War, poverty, abuse ….. threw Fatima on the streets of Saida to sell flowers to support her mother, her stepfather and her siblings. Fatima was forced to leave school to sell flowers. She was killed in a car accident.

There are hundreds of Fatima in the streets of Lebanese cities. We heard hundreds of similar stories, yet nothing was done or changed. The tragedy of Fatima and other kids should have pulled all Lebanese together to save these kids. Don’t, you Lebanese, brag around that the Lebanese family ties and our society is better than those in the west? Do you know what will the western population do if they see an 11 years old kid selling flowers on the streets?

Isn’t it about time to stop your hypocrisy and your fake faces and do something?

Follow Up: Human Rights defenders on trial for denouncing torture in Lebanon

The first public court session of CLDH representatives Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar was held Yesterday in front of Judge Elias Khoury (Publication Court of Baabda) in the presence of NGOs,  the European Union, embassies and United Nations representatives, showing their support to the two human rights defenders sued for denouncing allegations of torture in Lebanon.

The session was a questionning by the Court and the lawyers of the two human rights defenders who face up to one year in jail and a fine in case they are convicted for defamation. Both insisted on the role of human rights NGOs to denounce human rights violations whenever they get credible allegations, and on the risk of such a lawsuit for the human rights NGOs’ work. The next court session is scheduled on June 11, 2015.

In 2011, CLDH published, in partnership with other NGOs a comprehensive report on torture in Lebanon, based on testimonies and first-hand information, denouncing the practice of torture by various security services and non-state actors.

Short after the report’s publication, two of CLDH board members, namely Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar, were summoned by the police for investigation. They were explained that Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri (who is also the head of the Lebanese Parliament) had filed a complaint against them because the said report mentioned allegations of torture perpetrated by Amal members.

The police said Amal considered the denunciation of these allegations as an incitation to sectarian strife, an infringement to the country’s unity, defamation and false accusation.

Instead of investigating the allegations of torture, the head of the Parliament preferred to have the human rights defenders investigated and sued.

The case was then referred to Prosecutor Claude Karam, who transmitted it to investigating judge Jean Fernaini. On several occasions, Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar were heard by Judge Fernaini who finally issued an indictment accusing them of defamation and transferred the case to the Court of Publication.

Since its inception in Beirut in 2006 CLDH has been systematically documenting and denouncing the practice of torture in Lebanon. CLDH strongly believe that the practice of torture is unacceptable, whatever the reason is, and whoever the perpetrators are.

CLDH would like to express its gratefulness to the persons who attended the session and/or expressed their support to CLDH.

LBCI Coverage : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk8JBq4Y3Gw

AL-AKHBAR : http://al-akhbar.com/node/228542

L’orient Le jour : http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/916302/deux-militants-des-droits-de-lhomme-devant-le-tribunal-des-imprimes.html

http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/916300/ibrahim-najjar-la-diffamation-est-susceptible-de-sanctions-independamment-de-sa-veracite.html

Another example of Lebanese racism …..

Mother day is coming up and what a Lebanese should buy his mother as a gift? According to a Lebanese company, the best gift is a slave and they have deals on Kenyans and Ethiopians maids. A friend of mine wrote about it on blogbaladi . Lebanon is known for its bad records when it comes to Human Rights and respecting people of a different color. Racism is widespread in the country on every single level, specially in the sector of migrant workers.

Don’t let the high rises, the flashy stores, the crazy parties fool you. Lebanese, in general are racist. You will be subjected to racism if you are from different religion, color, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation …  The culture of discrimination is socially accepted in Lebanon and so far nothing has been done to change it.

Human rights defenders on trial for denouncing torture in Lebanon

Then following is from Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH):

First public court session against CLDH for denouncing torture
Date: March 17, 2015
Time: 09:00 am
Place: Baadba Palace of Justice (Publication court)

Dear colleagues and friends,

Since its inception in Beirut in 2006 CLDH has been systematically documenting and denouncing the practice of torture in Lebanon. We strongly believe that the practice of torture is unacceptable, whatever the reason is, and whoever the perpetrators are.

In 2011, CLDH published, in partnership with other NGOs a comprehensive report on torture in Lebanon, based on testimonies and first-hand information, denouncing the practice of torture by various security services and non-state actors.

Short after the report’s publication, two of CLDH board members, namely Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar, were summoned by the police for investigation. They were explained that Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri (who is also the head of the Lebanese Parliament) had filed a complaint against them because the said report mentioned allegations of torture perpetrated by Amal members.

The police said Amal considered the denunciation of these allegations as an incitation to sectarian strife, an infringement to the country’s unity, defamation and false accusation.

In short, instead of investigating the allegations of torture, the head of the Parliament preferred to have the human rights defenders investigated… and sued.

The case was then referred to Prosecutor Claude Karam, who transmitted it to investigating judge Jean Fernaini. On several occasions, Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar were heard by Judge Fernaini who finally issued an indictment accusing them of defamation and transferred the case to the Court of Publication.

The first public court session of Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar will be held on March 17, 2015 at 09:00 am at Baadba Palace of Justice (Publication court).

We would like to invite you to attend the session in order to show support to CLDH, to human rights defenders’ work in particular, and to freedom of expression in general.

One can not defend human rights without denouncing the most serious violations. Torture will never end in Lebanon without naming the alleged perpetrators, without proper investigation of allegations, without ending impunity of authors.

If you too believe in these principles, then we hope to see you at the court session on March 17.

Best regards,

The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)

For more info, pls call: 70 950 780, Wadih Al-Asmar


Marie Daunay
Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)
Centre Bakhos 7th Floor
St Joseph Hospital Street
Dora, Beirut
Lebanon
Tel : (+961) 01 24 00 23 / 03 887 108
www.cldh-lebanon.org