The Lebanese Ambassador's Inability to
By: Elias Bejjani
It is truly sad and really painful that we, members of the Lebanese Canadian NGOs, find ourselves every now and then with no choice but to respond to humiliating, hostile, accusative and simply inappropriate comments that the Lebanese regime's ambassador to Canada, Mr. Raymond Baaklini, makes about us. These comments have appeared lately in some printed media published in Montreal, Canada. What is actually frustrating with Mr. Baaklini's attitude is that he does not learn from his negative experiences, which reveals a certain intellectual density to the man that stands counter to the flexibility that a diplomat must posses and exercise. He apparently has not learned from the official condemnations and public reactions fiasco that his bizarre and bigoted statements continue to generate from across Canada.
It seems that Mr. Baalklini is either unable, or most likely unwilling to cope with the rules and regulations of the democratic countries in which he has been serving as an ambassador to the Syrian-appointed Lebanese regime. His diplomatic record as an ambassador is actually not that encouraging, to put it mildly. Before he was appointed to Canada, he served in the same post in France where he was the only Lebanese ambassador in the past 50 years to have the French government delay accepting his credentials for several months because of inappropriate comments he made and angered the French foreign ministry.
Since his appointment to Canada, Mr. Baalklini has continued on that tradition and been nothing but an embarrassment for the Lebanese Canadian community. He has no tolerance for members of the Lebanese community he represents and for the NGOs that oppose the current status quo of the Syrian Baathist occupation of Lebanon.
In an effort to appease his Syrian masters and in a bid to preserve his high-paying post as a diplomat, Mr. Baaklini has not stopped spewing outright hostility toward all Lebanese Canadian NGOs and members of the community who do not see eye-to-eye with him the current situation in Lebanon. In contravention to the rules of civilized conduct in a society such as Canada's, Mr. Baalklini has resorted to threats and anti-Semitic language, attributing all the ills that his bosses in Damascus and Beirut brought upon themselves by supporting terrorism to the Christian Lebanese and Jewish communities in Canada. Not atypical of the Syrian dictatorship and its puppets in Beirut who jailed thousands of dissidents and human rights activists under the false accusation of "dealing with the Zionist enemy", a fallacy that is as old as the vulgar tyranny that the late dictator, Hafez Assad, and his son Bashar have established in Syria.
Last year. and after the terrorist Hizbollah group was banned by the Liberal government of Canada, he made highly inappropriate comments that insulted every Canadian citizen and attacked the sanctity of the freedom of the Press by accusing the media in Canada of being in the service of the "Zionist lobby". He further insulted the Lebanese Canadian NGOs and accused them of being traitors to their homeland Lebanon for merely demanding that the Lebanese regime cease its support of terrorism and uphold Lebanon's traditional respect for freedoms and human rights. He had to apologize not once but twice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the last three weeks, Mr. Baaklini has repeated the same mistakes by again making extremely inappropriate comments targeting the credibility of Canada's media, and we quote the ambassador: "The exaggeration of the news has its well-known background since the media that is controlled by certain parties seek to exaggerate every news item pertaining to Israel". This and other controversial comments appeared in two interviews given by the ambassador and published on 29/7/03 and 6/8/03 by, respectively, "Sada Al Mashreq" and "Al Mustakbal" Arabic language newspapers of Montreal-Canada. (Read the translation of the two interviews on the CLHRF web site http://www.clhrf.com <http://www.clhrf.com/> )
In regards to Mr. Bruce Balfour, the Canadian pastor who is held in Lebanon under accusation of "spying for Israel", the ambassador - faithful to his Stalinist training - boldly stated that Balfour is guilty even before an investigation or a trial, explaining that the Lebanese state would not have arrested him if he were not guilty! To quote the ambassador's own words, Mr. Baaklini explained to Al-Mustakbal that "security arrests are not carried out unless the authorities are certain that the charges are confirmed". Which simply means that according to the juridical standards applied in occupied Lebanon since 1990 the court trial process is merely a routine procedure with a known and pre-determined outcome. Mr. Balfour has been sentenced before his trial. While this attitude might sound absurd and bizarre to the Canadians, it is in fact the actual reality that has been imposed by the Syrian Baathist occupation on the oppressed Lebanese people since 1990.
Members of the Lebanese judiciary fabricated the charges, filed the complaints, and judged and sentenced the victim through the controlled media and only then started the trial. Thousands of innocent Lebanese, including prominent opposition leaders, journalists, lawyers, human right activists, and others have been found guilty by this system over the years.
The other scary aspect of Mr. Baaklin's statements is the open threats and groundless accusations that he voiced against numerous Lebanese Canadian NGOs and individuals. He shamelessly stated that the Lebanese embassy is watching and investigating and even performing statistics to pinpoint who is with and who is against the Syrian-appointed Lebanese regime. According to Mr. Baaklini, those who oppose him are less then a minority, are Christian, and are financed by the Zionists and serve Israeli's interests!!!! He even had the gall to allege that Mr. Stockwell Day, the Canadian Alliance's foreign affairs critic is defending Mr. Balfour because he (Mr. Day) might be a friend of Israel. The question is: should the Canadians tolerate in their country an ambassador who is aggressively and publicly trying to impose his own criteria on friends and enemies?
I ask our Canadian government to send this ambassador back to Lebanon. It is very clear to everybody that he can't control his Baathist tongue, the man is on a rampage and the only way to stop him, is to expel him.
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF) & Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC).