Despite pledges from politicians, parties and governments, the families of the estimated 17,000 who “disappeared” during and after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war continue to wait for information on the fate of their loves ones. In addition, during the war, thousands of Lebanese were arbitrary arrested and abducted by the Syrian military and intelligence forces or by Lebanese parties (militias) and handed over to the Syrians. Many of them were illegally transferred to Syria and imprisoned without trials. Lebanese NGO’s have document the names of hundred of Lebanese names illegally imprisoned in Syria.
During the past years, few were released alive and some returned dead. Many Lebanese politicians (due to their inability to solve the issue or their involvement in the kidnappings) been saying that they doubt that any of the Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails is still alive.
The release of 49-year-old Yaacoub Chamoun, after 27 years in Syrian jails, not only proved them wrong but he has revealed to SOLIDE (Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile) names of Lebanese prisoners who met during his imprisonment that were not among the names that SOLIDE had compiled. Chamoun revealed that who was seized in the eastern city of Zahle 27 years ago, and later moved to several Syrian prisons during his incarceration, including the notorious Mezze, Saydnaya and Tadmor prisons. His crime is that he supported the Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces.
The Lebanese civil war has ended 22 years ago and still the fates of Lebanese and other residents of Lebanon who disappeared at the hands of Syrian security forces and Lebanese parties remain unknown.
The families of those who disappeared during the war, enter their 8th year sit-in in downtown Beirut hoping that one day they know what happened to their family members. They have been calling Lebanese lawmakers to adopt a Bill that will ease up the pain of the parents. They are waiting for Parliament’s approval of a proposal to establish a national commission to reveal their relatives’ fate. “This commission ensures an effective work plan to reach a solution to this problem that would allow giving clear and detailed answers about the fate of the victims of the forcibly disappeared” said Ghazi Aad, head of SOLIDE.
Syrians officials denied they kidnapped any Lebanese and transferred them to Syrian prisons. Lebanese officials were happy with the joint Syrian-Lebanese commission that was formed few years ago and led to nothing, Lebanese politicians kept lying and did nothing to seek the truth about the “disappeared”.
For sure the Syrians will deny having Lebanese abducted and imprisoned in Syria. The Lebanese governments did nothing for the past 22 years. It is not in their favour to solve this issue. Many parties who became members of governments had a role in abducting Lebanese during the war and many of them handed Lebanese to Syrian security forces.
Twenty two years is a long time. It is an eternity for families who don’t know what happened to their loved ones. Lebanese War lords have made peace, shook hands and returned to normal lives. Most of them stayed as head of parties and ruled Lebanon for the past 22 years. It is time to establish a national commission that includes all parties in order to find out what happened to the “disappeared”. It is really sickening to see them living their lives, taking vacation, smoking cigars, showing their faces on TV, making fortunes while families still don’t know what happened to their family members who have vanished during the civil war.