Goodwill Syrian Style
Charbel Khouri
UALM - Australia


When the Lebanese puppet politicians speak of Syria the term ‘goodwill’ is never far away from their lips. At every opportunity that arises the Syrian appointed politicians rant and rave about the so-called ‘goodwill’ of sisterly Syria. The citizens of Lebanon have come to understand that Syrian goodwill means exactly the opposite.

Early this week the Syrian government returned the body of an illegally jailed Lebanese taxi driver. His name is Joseph Emile Houeiss and he was abducted in June 1992. He was taken to Syria after he was involved in a small collision with a Syrian Army jeep. His transportation to Syria was in blatant violation of Lebanese and international law. Upon his arrest Mr. Houeiss was kept in arbitrary detention and deprived of all his judicial and human rights. Mr. Houeiss who had epilepsy was never provided with the required medical care.

To add insult to injury the body of Mr. Houeiss was returned to his family six days after his death. The Syrians also ordered that the family bury him in secret. The family of Mr. Houeiss was never allowed to visit him in jail and the Syrian and Lebanese authorities on numerous occasions denied his existence in Syria.

Thanks to Syrian kindness thousands of innocent Lebanese citizens like Mr. Houeiss are held in Syrian jails. They are held without a legitimate reason; their only crime is that they are Lebanese. The Syrian government refuses point blank to abide by the United Nation’s International Human Rights charter.

The lucky few that have been released tell of the heinous acts of ‘goodwill’ perpetrated by the Syrians on their Lebanese prisoners. They are subjected to torture in all its forms (psychological, physical etc.) and they are refused the proper medical attention. To mention all that occurs behind the walls of the Syrian prisons would be very depressing. The fact that people die in custody is enough to send shivers down the spine let alone to account all the details of what occurs.

Apart from the fact that the Lebanese people have to contend with a brutal Syrian regime, they also have to deal with a submissive Lebanese government who works to help achieve the aspirations of the Syrian dictatorship while forgetting its own people.

The officials in the corrupt Lebanese government have chosen to side with the aggressor against the innocent. The Lebanese government knows full well the fate of the 18,000 missing Lebanese citizens. Countless reports from various sources confirm the presence of thousands of Lebanese in Syrian prisons. In July 2000, in a failed bid to silence the ever-growing pressure on Syria, the government issued a decree stating that all 18,000 people were dead. The fact that proof was available pointing to the presence of Lebanese in Syrian jails didn’t deter them from making this decree.

The plight of the prisoners has been neglected for so many years. The prisoners have been abandoned by their own government because it does not want to offend its Syrian masters. Their families are treated with the utmost disrespect and are made to pay hefty amounts of money just for some information that might help relive them of their pain.

The crimes that are occurring against the people of Lebanon by the Syrian and Lebanese governments will not be forgotten. The Syrian government and its proxy in occupied Beirut must start making amends for all their crimes of the past. The time will come when every single Syrian and Lebanese official will have to face up to justice. Who knows maybe one day those Syrian and Lebanese officials might receive a gesture of ‘goodwill’ from the people of Lebanon. It goes without saying that it is only fair that they return the favour.