From: Lebanese-Canadian groups

To: Mr. Bill Graham
The Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ottawa, Canada

Regarding: Current situation in occupied Lebanon

9 May 2003

Dear Mr. Graham
On behalf of the organizations and individuals of the Lebanese Canadian Community who strongly believe in, and advocate for a free, sovereign, independent, multi-cultural, secular and democratic Lebanon, we would like to share with you the following concerns and perspectives on ways and means to end the status quo of the Syrian occupation of our homeland Lebanon:

1- We strongly advise the Canadian government to promptly declare an unambiguous stance on the UN Resolution 520 that Canada has supported. The time is now appropriate to give the Syrian regime the blunt and straightforward message that its ongoing occupation of Lebanon is not accepted by the Canadian people and government.

2- The Canadian government has a moral and ethical obligation to state to its people and to the whole world that the Lebanese regime does not represent the Lebanese people. Rather, it is the latest in a long line of puppet regimes that have been installed by the Syrian dictatorship since October 1990 when the Syrian army violently completed its occupation of the whole country and forced its legitimate government into exile.

3- The Syrian regime, acting through proxy Lebanese officials, politicians, and members of the clergy elite, has converted Lebanon into a haven for local, regional and international terrorist groups and organizations that preach, promote and practice fanaticism, hatred, sectarianism, terrorism and violence.

4- The accords that were forced on Lebanon and the Lebanese people by the Syrian regime and other Arab countries since 1989 have proven to be a poisonous formula that never worked and will never work. Under the cloak of "stabilizing" Lebanon, these accords which did not stipulate a timetable for the withdrawal of the Syrian occupation forces, became Trojan horses through which the Syrian regime embarked on an annexationist program that hijacked Lebanese identity, education, economy, and foreign policy. Accordingly, we ask your government to openly call for the implementation of the UN resolution 520.

5- We advise the Canadian government to deliver all financial help allocated to Lebanon through Lebanese humanitarian, health, educational and cultural NGO's, and not through the Lebanese government where corruption is rampant.

6- We support your welcome of the American roadmap for peace in the Middle East and join your call on all parties to take the steps necessary for its implementation. More than half a million Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon where the population is only 3.5 million. We urge our Canadian government to exercise all power and influence in its disposal to ensure that the issue of the Palestinian refugees be resolved in a manner that is equitable to both the refugees and to their host countries.
Options include giving a choice to the refugees to either return back to Palestine or build new homes and lives in countries of historical immigration that can afford them demographically and economically. For those refugees who choose to remain in the Arab Middle East, we advocate an elective distribution of Palestinian refugees that is proportionate to the population sizes of the destination host countries. Lebanon alone, by virtue of demographic equilibrium and size can no longer accommodate the present large number of refugees.

7- We urge the Canadian government to adopt France's latest call on Syria to withdraw all its troops from Lebanon in accordance to UN Resolution 520, support the US roadmap for Middle East peace, and pressure radical Arab groups to end their campaigns of violence. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin stated that: "Lebanon needs to return quickly ... to full independence and sovereignty, the condition for this is the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the deployment of Lebanese forces on the border with Israel". Minister de Villepin said Syria and Iran should exert pressure for moderation on radical groups with which they have ties.

8- We urge the Canadian government to take a clear stance concerning the hundreds of Lebanese citizens who are arbitrarily detained in Syrian jails and who are deprived of their basic rights. Over the last twenty-seven years, large scores of Lebanese citizens have been abducted by Syrian military and intelligence forces operating in Lebanon, transferred to Syrian territory, and unknown numbers of them remain imprisoned today in detention centers in and outside Damascus. Numerous attempts by human rights organizations and other governments to get Syria to admit to the existence of these detainees have so far failed. The circumstances behind the abductions are as varied as the political, religious, and ethnic identities of the detainees, but not one of them was legal or followed due process as stipulated by the Charter of Human Rights and subsequent treaties. All were cases of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.
Many detainees thought to be deceased have turned out alive, but the fate of many more remains uncertain. Much as the political detainees held in Al-Ghrieba jail outside Baghdad were summarily executed by the Iraqi regime just days before it fell to the Coalition forces, we fear for the lives of Lebanese and Syrian detainees and political dissidents as Syria faces mounting pressure.

9- We urge the Canadian government to support Lebanese opposition groups and parties in their peaceful strive to secure the recovery of Lebanese sovereignty, the evacuation of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the dismantling and banning of all terrorist groups and organizations from Lebanese soil, the implementation of all UN resolutions pertaining to Lebanon, the pacification and normalization of the Lebanese-Israeli border according to international law, the unconditional return of all Lebanese political exiles, the holding of internationally-supervised elections, and the immediate release of all political prisoners from Lebanese and Syrian jails.

For the Canadian For Lebanon 10452 KM2 / Yahya Mahmoud
For the Council of the  Lebanese Canadian Organizations (COLCO) / Gilbert Soudir
For the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF) / Edmond El Chidiac
For the Phoenician Community Services Club (CPCSC) / Charbel Elias
For the World Lebanese Organization (WLO) / Charbel Barakat
For the LIC (Lebanese Information Centre - Canada (LIC)/ William Kazzi
For the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC) / Elias Bejjani