Annual Report 2001
Our calls for the promotion of human rights in Lebanon have been met with neglect or confronted by lawsuits initiated against our organisation as well as other active groups of the civil society working in the same field. This offensive campaign is spearheaded by the attorney general and chief justice Mr. Adnan Addoum, at the top of the judicial system in Lebanon.
The Lebanese constitution and applicable laws were made to form the basis of the State, the respect for human rights and the provision of individual and public liberties. But the continuing events in Lebanon, particularly of August 2001 refute all claims by the "State of law and order". Slogans and even laws were altered to become tools of suppression by the security and judicial authorities for the purpose of eliminating all forms of dissent and subjugating the Lebanese society to the will of the Authority. The infamous judicial orders during the large-scale detention campaign in August were a clear evidence of the violation of the principles of penal proceedings. Consequently, we witnessed the flagrant contradictions in the exercise of power against the citizens ranging from banning peaceful demonstrations and student gatherings by means of repression, detention and trials to allowing others to demonstrate holding knives, sticks and axes.
We hereunder describe in detail some of the violations to human rights which we acted upon during the preceding year but are still pending, and no convincing justification has been put forth by the Lebanese authorities.
Detentions and trials
Security forces responded to protests by the civil society with detentions, torture and intimidation, particularly during the first half of the year and following pleas by the Maronite bishops in September 2000, claiming these protests offended a sisterly state. Among those detained were members of the "Lebanese Forces" and the "National Liberal Movement" and a number of lawyers, engineers and doctors. The Organisation has obtained reports on the conditions of these detainees which were then documented and publicised:
On 9/1/2001 Walid Dagher, member of the Lawyers Bar of the "National Liberal Movement" was detained. Armed men also arrested Mr. Jo Fakhri of Bsheri municipality and dragged him to the Lebanese Army Intelligence Centre in Tripoli.
On 10/1/2001 Siham Younes and Marwan Saliba of the "National Liberal Movement" were arrested while distributing leaflets calling for independence. Ghazi Geagea, another member of Bsheri municipality, was also arrested.
On 21/1/2001 the airport security forces assaulted and beat up Mark Sheiban, an engineer.
On 25/1/2001 Mr Maroun Gerges Taok was arrested and transferred to the Lebanese Ministry of defence; his lawyers were refused permission to see him.
On 29/1/2001 Mr. Georges Halkees Taok was illegally arrested. Some students received threats of detention and arrest, which is contrary to the statements of the Speaker Nabih Berri and the Prime Minister Rafik Hariri about respect of free expression and the implementation of laws.
On 1/2/2001 security forces set up checkpoints in several areas to prevent a stay-in of university and college teachers.
On 14/3/2001 units of the Lebanese army were positioned in great numbers throughout the city of Beirut to prevent student demonstrations against the Syrian presence in Lebanon. On the same day Lebanese military forces were reported to have entered the Lebanese TV station following a row over control and supervision of political programs. A number of employees were arrested and detained in obscure circumstances.
On 6/4/2001 the security forces allowed pro-government militants to distribute leaflets threatening to liquidate supporters of the "Lebanese Forces", the "National Liberal Movement", the "Socialist Progressive Party" and the "Lebanese Communist Party" who were preparing for a peaceful rally in the centre of Beirut in commemoration of the 13 April events and their subsequent end.
On 11/4/2001 the security forces gave permission to some elements to demonstrate while carrying axes, knives and sticks. Pictures of this armed display were broadcast by all local and international TV and press agencies.
On 21/4/2001 following a Mass held by the city of Bsheri (north Lebanon) at the invitation of the citys priests to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the detention of Dr. Samir Geagea, a son of the city of Bsheri, the security forces launched a campaign of attacks against civilians and even went inside their homes. It was reported that Georges Sukkar, Hanna Rahme, Charbel Sukkar, Bchara Taok, and Milad Taok (who was later transferred to St Joseph hospital in Dawra (Beirut in a serious state suffering from coma, bone fractures and bruises as a result of brutal beating in his house and in the presence of his family and children) were all arrested.
On 1/5/2001 Beirut witnessed a clampdown against dozens of people of Kurdish origin in Zeidaniyeh, Ain Al-Mrayseh, Zikak Al Balat. Syrian intelligence agents assaulted people in their homes.
ON 31/5/2001 anti-riot units of the internal security assaulted and beat students and teachers of the Lebanese University who were objecting to a government decision to unify branches of the university in Beirut and the "Mount Lebanon" area in Lebanon.
On 7/8/2001 the security forces launched a campaign of arrests against 250 activists of the "Lebanese Forces", the "National Liberal Movement" and the "National Liberal Party" following a visit to the "Jabal" area by the Maronite archbishop Nasralla Sfeir and the success of achieving reconciliation among all parties and sects.
On 8/8/2001 the campaign of detentions continued unabated following detailed reports of the mistreatment the detainees are suffering and their subjugation to beating and torture so as to sign undertakings not to take part in politics or rallies or they would be sent for trial. Among those arrested major-general Nadim Lteyf representative of the "National Liberal Movement", Dr. Tofik al-Hindi representative of the "Lebanese Forces" at "Kurnet Chahwan" constituency, lawyer Georges Haddad, engineer Hikmat Dib, Mr. Georges Al-Alam, engineer Adonis Akra, Jack Mitri, Toni Orient, Rabih Fakhri, Nader Nader, Charbel Abi Akl, Charbel Waked, Toni Nakouzi, Carla Jraish, Walid Sleiman, Mario Chamoun, Rami Saliba, Ziad Abi Nader, Simon Msallem, Ghassan El-Zinaty, Hares Nakhoul, Pierre Dagher, Toni Tannous, Charbel Msallem, and other Christian activists.
On 9/8/2001 civilian elements assaulted and violently beat up protesters gathered at the "Justice Hall" under the eyes and ears of the internal security forces, the army, officials of the courts and media correspondents. The Organisation has written to chief justice Adnan Addoum demanding that the authorities bring the culprits to justice. The Organisation has in its possession the full names of those civilians and their supervisors. However, none of the civilians in question or their supervisors has been summoned or held accountable.
On 17/8/2001 journalist Antoine Basil of MBC TV station was arrested and taken from his home accused of dealing with Israel. The same charges were made against Dr. Tofik Al-Hindi, the lawyer Elie Keyrouz and Mr. Salman Samaha who were held for a period of time at the Ministry of Defence and recently released on bails.
ON 18/8/2001 journalist Habib Younes editor of al-Hayat in Lebanon was arrested and accused of establishing contact with Israel.
On 3/9/2001 the security forces arrested each of Saud bou Chebl, Claude Shaanin, Fadi al-Chamati, Toni Jabbour, George Khouri, Saade Touma and Elian Al-Mir.
On 12/9/2001 Milad Assaf and Dani Geagea were detained for carrying pictures and leaflets, and were transferred to the Ministry of Defence without court orders.
On 14/9/2001 around 150 activists of the "Lebanese Forces" were arrested while taking part in a Mass in memory of former president Bachir al-Gemayel and were led to intelligence centres in Beirut.
On 20/9/2001 the attorney general ordered that he alone could issue permits for visiting the detainees. The order followed a visit by a delegation from "Kurnet Chahwan" to Roumieh prison where they met Dr. Tofik al-Hindi, lawyer Elie Keyrouz and Mr. Salman Samaha.
On 20/11/2001 the security forces banned a dinner party for the celebration of Independence Day due to be held in a restaurant in Byblos (North of Beirut) which was to be attended by former president Amin al-Gemayel.
On 21/11/2001 units of the Lebanese army and internal security forces stormed the campus of the Faculty of Engineering at St. Josephs University, tore up posters and boards hung on Independence Day because they expressed views not in support of the policies of the authorities.
Public liberties (individual freedom right of residence and movement religious rights)
After more than one year of Israeli withdrawal, the south of Lebanon is still under partisan authority with no real presence of the Lebanese legitimate forces. As a result the citizens are subjected to personal and partisan vendettas. There were a number of incidents against property of citizens (blowing up of shops belonging to Antoine Azi in the suburbs of Sidon, Antoine Kheyralah in the suburbs of Tyre, Paul Maroun in Majdelion). Assaults were also committed against former members of pro-Israel militias. We have documented 12 assaults (blowing up of shops and cars, beating and shooting to terrorise people) against persons who have been freed after serving their time in prison accused of dealing with Israel.
Assaults against religious sanctities were also documented:
Attacks on the freedom of the press:
Use of force:
- The issue of Lebanese citizens still detained in Syrian prisons, and the compensation
of those set free. They include people kidnapped from Lebanon and put in Syrian prisons
such as the Antonian brothers Albert Cherfan and Sleiman Abou Khalil, Mr. Boutros Khawand,
the musicians Karam Morkous and his brother Ziad, Lieutenant Tanios Zghaib and Lieutenant
Robert Bou Sirhal and many others.
- Lebanese political exiles and deportees
- Legitimising the arbitrary arrests by the security forces, the use of coercion during interrogation and the authorities non-abidance with international conventions signed by the State, namely the convention against the use of torture. Particularly, some people have been previously arrested and subjected to physical and psychological torture.
- The issue of continuing violations of the right of expression, freedom of the press, and the right to receive and publish material
- The conditions of Lebanese prisons
- The continuing detention of Geryes Tofik Al-Khouri in solitary confinement since 15/3/1994 inside a small cell at the Ministry of Defence, the HQ of the Minister Khalil Al-Harawi, where Mr. Geryes is not allowed reading or visits especially from his lawyer and religious officials. He is denied all rights guaranteed by the Lebanese law though he has already been sentenced to life imprisonment (Statement of 29/1/2001)
- the issue of holding to accountability those who assaulted students and unarmed citizens at the Justice Hall in Beirut. The statement of the Organisation was very clear in determining the responsibility. But the response was a lawsuit lodged against the Organisation (statement 24/8/2001). Later there was a confirmation of the information in the possession of the Organisation (statement 31/8/2001)
Media office: 12 Greyhound RoadLondon, W6 8NXU.K e-mail Cedarwatch@aol.com