AN OPEN LETTER TO GENERAL LAHOUD, DR. HOSS, DR. CHAOUL & HUMAN RIIGHTS COMMISSIONER, FROM AN AMERICAN LAWYER
6 May 2000
President Emil Lahoud
Prime Minister Salim Hoss
Mr. Joseph Chaoul, Minister of Justice
Ms. Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dear Lady and Gentlemen,
From the United States, I rise in defense of my good friend Dr. Muhammad Mugraby in response to the prosecution threatened against him for speaking out with regard to the integrity of the judiciary in Lebanon. Dr. Mugraby is an attorney of international distinction, a man of great integrity, foresight and love for his blessed country of Lebanon. I am a fellow attorney. I have known Dr. Mugraby since 1982 when I met him as he lectured at a seminar sponsored by Notre Dame University in South Bend Indiana here in the United States. I am also a grand son of Lebanon, my grandparents
having emigrated to the United States almost 100 years ago.
Dr. Mugraby is known to the many colleges that he has all over the world as the "Ideal Lebanese Citizen". In my work for Lebanon, Dr. Mugraby is the paradigm of the kind of citizen that Lebanon needs if it is to emerge from its 20 year crisis into a modern nation-state. He is informed, he is
concerned, when he sees wrong, he does not turn his back, but applies his mind, and his heart and his hands to the wrong, in order to make it right.
For Dr. Mugraby to see a blemish on his country's honor and not to take action would be as likely as the sun not rising in the East every morning. It is not possible. If there is corruption and Dr. Mugraby can document the corruption with objective evidence, his legal mind will not let him rest
until the corruption is exposed to the light of day, for only in the light of day, can the corruption be exposed and eliminated.
In writing of his findings and lecturing regarding those findings, Dr. Mugraby was exercising what we in America call an unalienable right, enshrined in our Bill of Rights to freedom of speech and freedom to address our government with our rightful grievances. We, in America have lived with these rights so enshrined for over 200 years. The right of the people to freely criticize their government does not make the government weak, rather the free exercise of this right makes the nation strong, for it is only when the people, the ultimate authority of all government, can call its servant, the government, to account, that the rights of the people can be properly vindicated. A servant that would intimidate or prosecute is master is the tyrant and no free people can long tolerate tyranny.
Not only is Dr. Mugraby's right to freedom of speech a right recognized by the United States, but it is a right recognized by the world community of nations. Another ideal Lebanese citizen, Dr. Charles Malek, over 50 years ago drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which also enshrined
this right at Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
Lebanon as a member state of the United Nations, and as the imminent beneficiary of a United Nations supervised liberation of its national sovereign territory from a neighboring occupying force, is solemnly pledged, through the Preamble to the Universal Declaration, "to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms." This raises the question of who should be threatened with the sanctions
that can be imposed by law? Shall it be the person freely exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression or the party seeking to deny him that right in violation of his right as a free human being?
Dr. Mugraby rather than being threatened with prosecution, should be raised up by the Lebanese people as a hero of the state. Whistle blowers, seekers of the truth and exposers of corruption are valued persons in a free society. They keep government accountable. Those who would prosecute such persons, admit to the truth of the allegations by their action taken to silence him. It is not a sign of strength that the Lebanese Government would threaten this good man with prosecution and the full brunt of authoritarian sanctions, rather it is the ultimate sign of weakness of this government that it can not stand the truth.
Dr. Mugraby has friends throughout the world who will not long tolerate the injustice that currently looms nor will we tolerate those who would silence his truth.In closing, yes, I am a descendent of Lebanese grandparents. They did not come from Dr. Mugraby's home town, were not born into the same social or economic class into which he was born, nor practice the same religion. But
there is a higher bond. That is the Lebanese bond which supersedes all others. Lebanon is the home for us all. True, we still each have our own rooms, but we all live under the same roof together. Dr. Mugraby's voice is the voice for us all. His efforts protect and support the integrity of the
Lebanese home. This is why he is the paradigm of the ideal Lebanese Citizen. He can see beyond his home village, beyond his social class and across the artificial confessional lines to speak for the entire nation as its conscience. And this is why he can not be silenced.
Joseph L. Boohaker, Attorney at Law
205 North 20th Street
Birmingham, Alabama USA
FAX (205) 328-7913