Lebanon Under Syrian Occupation
This is a quick preview of how Syria managed to mock the international community by hiding the truth behind its ominous intent towards Lebanon. The real intent was to make Lebanon the western province of Greater Syria. The world seems to have developed a blind spot to Asad's hideous deeds and conducted a policy of appeasement towards his regime. The state of indifference allowed Syria the opportunity to assimilate Lebanon in a step-by-step process.
Now, Lebanon is under Syrian colonization.
The process of eliminating Lebanon as a sovereign and independent nation went on slowly and systematically. It started in 1976 with the Syrian army breaking into Lebanon in the pretense of bringing an end to the Lebanese civil war.
The next steps were:
Ensure Arab and International recognition of its role in Lebanon (Riyad Accord).
Exacerbate the internal feuds and turn the Lebanese against each others.
Eliminate any Lebanese opposition.
Destroy the political, economical and social components of the Lebanese society.
Create conditions to ensure the collapse of the Executive and Legislative bodies of the state. Conditions that led later to the Taef accord.
Wrest complete control over Lebanese affairs.
Now, Syria is using Lebanon as a bargaining chip at the peace negotiations with Israel.
How did the Syrians manage to force Lebanon into submission?
Here is a quick outlook:
* It is worthy to indicate that all the ensuing events, are conducted either directly by the Syrians or indirectly by their surrogates. There is ample reason and evidence to believe that all these tragic events took place under Syrian guidance. The Syrian occupation created the perfect lawless environment for such actions.
1976, Shells fell heavily on the Presidential Palace in Baabda. President Sleiman Franjieh was forced to leave the palace to a safer area.
1978, the Palace was bombarded with heavy artillery and rockets. President Elias Sarkis escaped death when his office was destroyed and took shelter in the basement for a long period of time. The same year witnessed successive massacres in North Lebanon and the Bekaa valley in addition to military attacks against the Ministry of Defense and Al-Fayyadieh barracks and bombarding the Ashrafieh area and Hadath causing hundreds of civilian casualties inside the shelters. This situation forced President Sarkis to submit his resignation in protestation for the fierce and barbarous conduct of the Syrian army. As a result, the United Nation's Security Council convened without the request of Lebanon and adapted resolution 520 which orders the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.
1982, President Elias Sarkis, as commander in chief of the Arab Deterrent Forces, terminated the A.D.F's mandate in Lebanon. The Syrians refused to withdraw.
1982, President-elect Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by a Syrian agent, namely Habib Chartouni who was released from prison by Syrian forces on Oct. 13, 1990. He conducted several press interviews after his release and still at large.
1983, President Amin Gemayel asked the Syrians to withdraw their army from Lebanon. The Syrians ignored the request.
1986, assassination attempt on the life of President Amin Gemayel. A bomb was planted in his plane at Beirut International Airport.
1987, The Syrians ordered the government of Selim Al-Hoss to boycott President Amin Gemayel in retribution for his rejection of the `tripartite accord' that was signed earlier in Syria between Hobeika (Lebanese Forces), Jumblat (Socialist Progressive Party) and Berri (Amal Movement). The executive authority was brought to a standstill because of the boycott. Except for what was known at the time as the `wandering decrees' between East and West Beirut, Lebanon was almost politically paralyzed. This situation remained till the last minute of Amin's presidential term. Amin Gemayel is living now in Paris and unable to come back to Lebanon in the present situation.
1989, President Rene Mouawwad was assassinated in West Beirut. Two bombs exploded, one in the trunk of his car and the other one on the sideways of the street while his motorcade passed through on Independence Day.
Prime Minister Chafiq Wazzan was forced into political seclusion as a punishment for his role in the May 17 accord with Israel.
Prime Minister Saeb Salam left the country and went to live in Switzerland. Mr. Salam supported the Camp David accord between Israel and Egypt.
1984, Assassination attempt on the life of Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss.
1987, Prime Minister Rashid Karami was assassinated with a bomb planted under his helicopter seat on his way from Tripoli to Beirut.
1988, in defiance to the Lebanese Constitution, the Syrians created a second government, i.e., Salim Al-Hoss government, in a move to deaden the actions of the legal government headed by General Michel Aoun. This step delivered a severe blow to the Lebanese Constitution. It was a calculated step to enforce the Taef accord on Lebanon in a later stage.
1989, assassination attempt on the life of Prime Minister Aoun in Cyprus. Four individuals from the Syrian National Social Party were arrested. Their orders were to shoot down P.M. Aoun's helicopter.
Oct. 12, 1990, another assassination attempt on the life of P.M. Aoun. This time it was a young man (Francois Hallal) from the Syrian Baath Party. He was released from prison the very next day after the Oct. 13th onslaught. He gave a press conference at the Syrian Baath Party quarters in Beirut. The Baath Secretary General, Abdallah Al-Amin (Later became minister of Labor) introduced Hallal as a national hero of the Arab cause.
1990, Salim Al-Hoss, unconstitutionally, granted the Syrian Army the permission to use military action against the legal government of General Aoun. Many atrocities were conducted by the Syrian army both against civilians and military personnel.
1992, the government of Prime Minister Rashid Al-Solh supervised the assumed elections that brought 128 pro-Syrian deputies to the Parliament.
1993-1996, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his government are implementing a policy firmly established on Syrian consent and interests. This policy complies with the Lebanese-Syrian Treaty of Fraternity and Cooperation. Ironically and instead of injecting democratic values into the Syrian regime, things - no thanks to the treaty - went the other way around and the Lebanese system was brought closer and closer to resemble the autocratic nature of the Syrian regime.
1975-76, The role of the Parliament was hindered and blocked and its main building in Al-Nejme square was looted and closed.
The Mansour villa, near the demarcation line dividing West and East Beirut, became the temporary House of Parliament. This location made the Parliament practically inefficient from a legislative point of view.
Many Deputies were the target of assassination attempts like Raymond Edde, Najah Wakim, Pierre Gemayel, Abdel-Majid Al-Rafi'i, Camile Chamoun, Hashem Husseiny and others.
1977, Kamal Jumblat, leader of the Socialist Progressive Party, assassinated.
1978, Tony Franjieh and his family were brutally assassinated.
1978, Edmond Rizk was kidnapped and detained in North Lebanon.
1989, Nazem Al-Qaderi, assassinated. He was close to General Michel Aoun.
Louis Abu Sharaf, died when a Syrian shell hit his house in Ashrafieh, Beirut.
Dr. Farid Serhal, former deputy from Jezzine, Kidnapped and Detained.
After the breakdown of the May 17 accord, Syria put forth considerable pressure to replace Kamel Al-Asa'ad with Hussein Al-Houseiny as Speaker of the House. The pro-Syrian Houseiny played a major role in coordinating the Taef Accord.
1992, Houseiny was replaced with Nabih Berri, a long time Syrian power-broker. With Berri's appointment, in addition to 128 Parliamentarians hand picked by Syria, the Lebanese Parliament became Syria's legislative tool to legalize its actions in the name of the Lebanese people.
The Judicial System
The Judicial apparatus could not function properly during the chaotic events. Every faction had its judicial system and laws. This lawless environment made it possible for the long series of atrocities and crimes to take place. The judicial system was prevented from dealing with the criminals and terrorists that had the protection of the `de facto forces' on the ground. The result was that Lebanon turned out to be a safe haven for terrorism and crime.
Syria capitalized on this situation and supported the numerous criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers. Every individual or group that received Syria's protection could not be brought to justice. Habib Chartouni and Abu Nidal are two good examples.
Most of Syria's allies in Lebanon, who are key figures in the government and parliament, are responsible for crimes and atrocities like Elie Hobeika, Asa'ad Herdan and Sami Al-Khatib.
The justice system, within the framework of preserving national peace and reconciliation, is giving more jurisdiction to the military tribunal to look into civil cases that the government alleges are a menace to national security. These cases mostly include those who oppose the Syrian occupation and its puppet government of Lebanon.
The Ministry of Defense in Yarze was a constant target in every Syrian bombardment of the Christian enclave.
Many soldiers and officers of the Lebanese army were detained by the Syrian army in North Lebanon and the Bekaa valley.
1978, In February the Syrian army attacked the Ministry of Defense and Al-Fayyadieh barracks. Officer Abdallah Al-Hadshiti and many soldiers were killed in the attack.
Michel Ziadeh, whom was second in command of the First Brigade stationed in the Bekaa, Sleiman Mazloum and many high ranking officers were assassinated in areas of Lebanon that are under Syrian control.
On October 13, 1990, the Syrian army broke into the Ministry of Defense and took away all the archives belonging to the Lebanese army. They also detained high ranking officers who were later transferred to Syria for interrogation. The officers were: Br. Gen. Fouad Aoun, Br. Gen. Shamel Mouzaya (commander of the 5th Brigade), Br. Gen. Makhoul Hakmeh (commander of the 10th Brigade), Br. Gen. Louis Khouri (Director for the Office of the Commander in Chief of the Lebanese army), Br. Gen. Gabriel Arsuni (Press Secretary), Col. Amer Shihab (head of Army Intelligence), Lt. Col. Fouad Al-Achkar (head of Military Intelligence), Lt. Col. Fayez Karam (commander of the Moukafaha), Col. Karam Msawba'a, Lt. Col. Toufic Doumit, Col. Salah Mansour, and Major Maroun Abu Diwan.
At 9:00 am on October 13, 1990, General Aoun announced a seize fire and ceded his post as Commander of the Lebanese Army to General Emile Lahoud. After the seize fire, a massacre took place on the front of Dahr Al-Wa'hsh. Tens of Lebanese soldiers were massacred in cold blood, others were beaten, tortured and humiliated.
Army officer Kietel Hayek and many other army soldiers are detainees in Syrian prisons inside Syria.
The Treaty of Fraternity and Cooperation gave Syria the access to the military institution. Lebanese officers live with the possibility of being questioned by the Syrians for security reasons. One good example is captain Fadi Daoud from the `Maghaweer', the Lebanese army Special Forces, who was detained by the Syrians at the Beaurivage Hotel for a period of one month. Captain Daoud was ill-treated, tortured and interrogated then he was transferred to the prison of the Ministry of Defense in Yarze. The charge was that a soldier in his battalion killed a Syrian soldier in Tripoli upon his orders. The truth is that the Syrian soldier raped the Lebanese soldier's mother, a good reason in the Lebanese society, to kill the rapist without any orders.
Selim Al-Laouzi owner of Al-Hawadeth magazine was tortured to death on the hands of the Syrian army. Al-Laouzi's right hand was burned with acid because he wrote an article criticizing Syria's Baath regime. The building of Al-Hawadeth was destroyed and the magazine is published now in London.
Riyad Taha, head of the press syndicate, assassinated. Most recently the Justice Council re-opened the investigation into the crime but was stopped by a decree from President Hrawi. The decree states that the crime against Riyad Taha is a political one and is subject to the `General Pardon Act' that was enacted by Parliament in 1991. It is worthy to note that the defense attorney for the alleged assailants is Saoud Roufayel a pro-Syrian member of Parliament.
Michele Abou Jawdeh of Al-Nahar newspaper was kidnapped and then released.
Many newspapers were victims of assault like Al-Nahar and Al-Safeer.
1978, the destruction of `Voice of Lebanon' radio station, Canal 7 of the Lebanese Television, and Dar Al-Sayyad Publication House which publishes Al-Sayyad weekly magazine and Al-Anwar daily newspaper.
In the Second Republic i.e. the Taef Republic, there is a tight censorship on the news and articles that includes political analysis. Al-Diyar, Al-Safeer and Nida'a Al-Watan are 3 newspapers that were brought to trial due to the publication of articles that were considered menacing to the progression of ``national peace and security."
National Bloc Party:
Raymond Edde, head of the party, survived 3 assassination attempts on his life. Considering an advice from the late Egyptian President, Anwar Al-Sadat, he left Lebanon to live in Paris. President Sadat informed him that he was on a hit list.
1992, Dr. Michel Salhab, the Secretary General of the party, was assassinated. The investigation showed that the assassin was carrying out the orders of Abu Ali Al-Qabadie who is the bodyguard of the Alawite leader Ali Eid (a pro-Syrian Alawite member of Parliament now.) No court order was issued against Abu Ali Al-Qabadie.
The party does not represent any political weight with the absence of its historical leader.
National Liberal Party:
Former President Camile Chamoun, founder and leader of the party, escaped several assassination attempts.
In the aftermath of the October 13, 1990, Dany Chamoun and his family were brutally massacred. The Baabda district where Dany lived was full with Syrian soldiers. It is true that the `Lebanese Forces' militia was implicated and convicted in this atrocity, nevertheless, the question remains: who did facilitate the convenient circumstances for the crime to take place?
Pierre Gemayel, founder and head of the party, escaped several assassination attempts.
Many members of the party were detained by the Syrians mostly in towns coming under Syrian control.
Faraj Ubeid, in charge of Al-Rmeil area-Ashrafieh, was detained for years in North Lebanon. He later died from torture.
Maya Bashir Gemayel and many others were killed when a car bomb exploded in Ashrafieh, Beirut. The attempt was targeted to kill Bashir.
1982, Bashir Gemayel, the President-elect, was assassinated in Ashrafieh.
President Amin Gemayel escaped an attempt on his life when a bomb was planted in the MEA airplane he was intending to use at Beirut International Airport.
Elie Hobeika and Samir Geagea were responsible for the first schism in the Kataeb party. Then Elie Hobeika caused the second schism by signing the `tripartite accord' with Walid Jumblat and Nabih Berri in Damascus.
The party now is divided to different divisions. The leadership is with those who sided with Syria i.e. George Saadeh and Karim Bakradoni's team.
1992, Boutros Khawand, member of the Kataeb politburo, was kidnapped in front of his house in broad daylight. his whereabouts are unknown.
The central building for the Kataeb Party in down-town Beirut was torn apart when a pick-up truck exploded with 200 kilos of high explosives outside the premise. Dr. Antoine Ba'aklini died in the explosion.
Progressive Socialist Party:
1977, Kamal Jumblat was assassinated, obviously by Syrian agents, because he opposed the Syrian intervention in Lebanon.
Walid Jumblat, son of Kamal, learned his lesson very well and became Syria's ally in Lebanon. Thomas Friedman mentioned in his book ``From Beirut To Jerusalem'' that Hafez Asad implied indirectly to Walid Jumblat that he would face his father's tragic end if he remains defiant to Syrian demands.
Walid Jumblat, escaped an Assassination attempt with a car bomb.
Anwar Al-Fatayri, a prominent figure in the party, assassinated.
Syrian National Social Party:
Many members of the party that had contacts with the Iraqi Baath were assassinated like Bashir Ubeid for example.
The party is divided to four factions. The only difference between them is their different contacts within the Asad regime in Syria.
The S.N.S.P was used by the Syrian regime on many occasions such as the assassination of Bashir Gemayel and the attempt to kill General Aoun in Cyprus. Asa'ad Herdan's faction is responsible for these operations. He is currently Minister of Labor in the second Hariri government.
The Amal Movement was divided to two main groups, Amal in Beirut and South Lebanon and Islamic Amal in the Bekaa valley.
Daoud Daoud, Amal's military officer in South Lebanon, was assassinated with his companions on the Beirut-Sidon highway.
Nabih Berri, head of the movement, is a loyal ally to Syria in Lebanon. He is Currently the Speaker of the House.
The Syrian army carried out a massacre (19 dead) against Hizbullah when they re-entered West Beirut in 1987.
Hizbullah is working very closely with the Syrians. They both exploited the issue of the foreign hostages adequately. By frequently igniting the situation in South Lebanon, Hizbullah is serving as a tool to both Syria and Iran. Iran's strategy is to strike a severe blow to the peace process while Syria wants to prove to the world its indispensability in providing peace and security in Southern Lebanon. Containing Hizbullah is Syria's bargaining measure in the peace talks with Israel.
Guardians of the Cedars: Abu Arz, the leader of the party is convicted and sentenced for 7 years in prison by the Military Tribunal for writing a letter to Gen. Aoun asking him to make contacts with the Jewish community in the United States. Samir Nasr, who carried the letter served one year in prison. Mr. Nasr was considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. On January 16, 1996, the Military Tribunal issued an arrest warranty against Abu Arz because he attended the late Yitzhac Rabin's funeral in Jerusalem.
Al-Mourabitoon: Used to have good contacts with Libya. Their leader Ibrahim Qleilat is out of Lebanon.
Al-Tanzeem Al-Sha'abi Al-Nasiri.
Al-Tanzeem Al-Sha'abi Al-Naseri, Mustafa Sa'd faction: Assassination asttempt on the life of Mustafa Sa'd in Sidon. His little girl Natasha was killed in the explosion and he lost his eyesight.
The Communist Party.
The Iraqi Baath Party: All members are living a nightmare of continuous persecution. Most of them have been detained and interrogated in Palestine Branch and Mazze prison inside Syria.
The Central Bureau for National Coordination: An assembly of political groups in support of General Michel Aoun. Many members of the bureau were arrested and persecuted. The assembly is denied any political activity and most members are living outside Lebanon.
Religious figures from all of Lebanon's ethnic groups were a vital target on the road to subdue any rejection to the Syrian military colonization of Lebanon. In the ethnically diverse Lebanese society, religious men of Church and Islamic centers carry a great power to impress and orient their public respectively. For this very reason it was necessary for the Syrian regime to suppress by all means the religious voices that calls for independence and national unity.
Imam Mousa Al-Sadr, head of the Shiite Supreme Council in Lebanon, disappeared in Libya with his two companions. The Libyan authorities claim they know nothing about him and that he boarded a plane on a trip to Italy. The Italian authorities denied the Libyan allegations and it is clear that the Imam was killed in Libya on orders from Colonel Qaddafi. Qaddafi was a close ally to Syria's Asad.
`Sheikh' Subhi Al-Saleh, a prominent Moslem-Sunni religious figure from Tripoli, assassinated.
Sheikh' Halim Taqii Al-Deen, head of the Spiritual Druze Court, assassinated.
1986, `Sheikh' Said Sha'ban, the `Emire' of `Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiah' in Tripoli, was detained in Syria and most of his followers went to Syrian detention centers. He returned to Tripoli after submitting himself to Syrian demands.
1989, `Mufty' Hassan Khaled, the mufty of Lebanon for the Moslem-Sunnis, assassinated in a devastating car bomb explosion in West Beirut.
Assassination attempt on the life of the Greek Catholic Patriarch, Maximus V Hakim, on his way to Zahle in the Bekaa valley.
October 13, 1990, the abduction of friar Abu Khalil and friar Shirfan from Al-Qala'a Maronite monastery in Beit Mery, Mount-Lebanon. the two friars disappeared after the Syrian soldiers attacked and destroyed the monastery. No word of what really happened that day at the monastery.
After the death of `Sheikh' Abu Chakra, the religious headman of the Druze i.e. `Sheikh Al-Akl', it was difficult for the Druze political leadership to appoint a successor for him due to internal feuds fueled by Syrian intervention. `Sheikh' Bahjat Geith was appointed as an interim `Sheikh Akl', but his appointment caused more division in the Druze community. All Druze leaders referred to Syria to solve this delicate problem, yet there is no solution.
Two assassination attempts on the life of `Sheikh' Taha Saboungi, `Mufty' of Tripoli in North Lebanon.
1995, the assassination of `Sheikh' Nizar Al-Halabi, spiritual leader of the Islamic Projects Society `Jami'iyat Al-Mashari'i Al-Islamiah'. The group that carried the attack is headed by `Abu Mohjen', a Palestinian who is closely related to Mounir Al-Maqdah of Ein Al-Helwe Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon. Al-Maqdah opposes the Oslo Accord and have good ties with the Syrian regime. Abu Mohjen is still at large inspite of 4 arrest warranties.
1976, Francis Meloy, the American Ambassador to Beirut, assassinated .
Louis De Lamar, French Ambassador, assassinated.
1981, The Iraqi Embassy totally destroyed with a car bomb.
Two successful car bomb attacks on the American Embassy in Ain Al-Mreissy 1983 and Aoukar 1985.
attack on the French Embassy in West Beirut.
Attacks on the Saudi and Kuwaiti Embassies.
October 23, 1983, a suicidal attack on the U.S. Marines barracks near Beirut Airport. 241 Marines died.
October 23, 1983, a suicidal attack on the French Paratroopers. 64 died.
September 18, 1986, Rene Goytard, the Military Attache at the French Embassy assassinated. Hsein Mustafa Tleis, a corporal in the Lebanese army killed Goytard on orders from Hizbullah.
Spanish Ambassador De Arestighee, was killed when a Syrian 240 mm mortar shell destroyed his quarters in the Spanish Embassy near Baabda.
Americans, British, French, Dutch and Germans were targeted by Hizbullah and other Islamic groups. Many were held in captivity in what was known as the `Hostage Crisis'. The hostage crisis shattered Lebanon's image on the international scene.
Most recently, Al-Ma'ayta, the First Secretary at the Jordanian Embassy was assassinated in broad daylight.
Syrian Methods of Terror
Systematic massacres of civilians:
a- 1976, Qa'a, Ayshieh, Deir Ashash and Damour.
b- 1978, Ashrafieh.
c- 1981, Zahle.
d- 1983, Mount Lebanon and Shouf. 300,000 people displaced.
e- 1986, Tripoli.
f- 1989, Tripoli. 500 civilians were massacred on the same day.
g- 1990, massacre of soldiers in cold blood and of civilians like Siah family.
killing men of knowledge like:
a- Kamal Al-Hajj, Lebanese philosopher.
b- Dr. Raymond Ghosn, Dean of Engineering (AUB).
c- Dr. Robert Njeimeh, Dean of Students (AUB).
d- Dr. Mohamed Shkeir, President Amin Gemayel's advisor.
e- 1989, Toufic Yousef Awwad, poet and writer.
f- 1991, Mustafa Jeha, poet and writer.
Indiscriminate bombardment of civilians with all kinds of heavy artillery including: 240 mm mortars, 160 mm mortars, 130 mm howitzers, 152 mm howitzers and BM 21 multiple rocket launchers.
The usage of car-bombs tactic to spread devastating destruction and horror amongst civilians. The number of car bomb explosions reached a horrible and unprecedented figure in any country in the world, 254 explosions in 14 years. Heavy populated areas were the target for such explosions in order to cause heavy life and material civilian losses.
The detention centers
There are many aspects in the Lebanese society that were a target to the ruthless nature of the Asad regime. One of the most painful, persisting and agonizing aspects to the thousands of families, is the problem of the Lebanese detained in Syria. Since 1976 this problem has been a horrific ordeal to the detainees and their families in Lebanon. There are persons detained both in Israel and in Syria. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has been working for a considerable time on the issue of the Lebanese prisoners inside Israel, however, the subject of the Lebanese in Syrian prisons is totally neglected. The latter case is completely different from the preceding one in three main aspects:
The number and names of the Lebanese imprisoned in Israel is correctly identified, while the number and names of those detained in Syria remains a mystery due to many factors:
a- Family members are afraid to release any information that would
jeopardize their son's life inside the prison.
b- Fear of becoming a target to the Syrian Intelligence (Al-Mukhabarat).
c- Some families are allowed to visit their detainees in Syria and are reluctant to give any kind of information in fear of losing their visit permit.
d- Many are released upon paying ransom money to Syrian officers and receive threats not to disclose such information. This kind of extortion is widely used by Syrian officers in Lebanon.
We have full account of the Israeli prisons where the Lebanese are detained. This is not the case with Syria where there are numerous detention centers. The best known of these detention centers are:
a- Mazze (Syria)
b- Tadmur (Syria)
c- Azra (Syria)
d- Talfiteh (Syria)
e- Anjar (Beqaa, Lebanon)
f- Na'ameh (south of Beirut, Lebanon)
g- Bourivage Hotel (Beirut, Lebanon)
h- Oussaya (Beqaa, Lebanon)
I- Palestine Branch (Syria)
The International Committee of Red Cross (I.C.R.C) is allowed to visit the Lebanese prisoners in Israel while prohibited from visiting the Syrian prisons.
What adds more complexity to the problem is the security appendix attached to the Treaty of Fraternity and Cooperation that was signed between Syria and Lebanon. The treaty granted Syria the permission to arrest any person, both inside Lebanon and Syria, in case he or she represents a threat to national security. According to the treaty, the national security of Syria is interconnected with the security situation in Lebanon, consequently Syria must have the upper hand in security related issues. The most terrible aspect of the security accord is its ineffectiveness in recognizing the destiny of the Lebanese prisoners who were held in detention prior to the signing of the treaty. All these prisoners were taken to Syria without the knowledge of the Lebanese Judicial system.
The prisoners (with complete neglect to the Lebanese laws and authorities) are detained first in detention centers inside Lebanon. The two main Syrian officers in charge of Intelligence are Ghazi Kanaan and Rustum Ghazali. The `blood road' starts in Beirut and then to Anjar in the Bekaa valley. Days later, the detainees are transferred to Palestine Branch, down-town Damascus, for more interrogation with the `Mukhabarat'. Weeks later the detainees are transferred to the various Syrian prisons where they evidently disappear. Many of them were released, but hundreds are still in detention. Nothing is known about their fate. According to a 1989 report published by Amnesty International, there are 38 methods of torture inside Syrian prisons. People coming back speak of horrors taking place inside the walls of those prisons. The detention of Lebanese in Syria is an ongoing process. Everyday a new list of detainees is reported to us. Taking the present state of affairs in Lebanon, it is almost impossible to evoke this problem. The Syrian authorities consistently deny the presence of any Lebanese prisoners inside Syria or at any Syrian detention center inside Lebanon. Inspite of the continuous denials, we believe that hundreds of detainees are still alive inside the prisons.
The Asad regime should be held accountable to its human rights violations. The hidden ordeal of those who are detained by it's Intelligence apparatus must not remain shrouded. The world community should be aware that this regime rose to power and remained there with complete disrespect to the basic human rights principles. Its atrocious human rights record is its legacy. The regime's commitment to peace is in question since it is still detaining the hundreds of Lebanese in its prisons and the most significant prisoner of all is Lebanon as a nation. There are press reports that talks about releasing 5000 political prisoners. Contrary to these reports, we received no information to confirm the release of any Lebanese who is registered in our records. We have no doubt that there is a political deal between the Asad regime and the Islamic extremists. Even the few Lebanese who were released belong to the Islamic fundamentalists.
The colonization of Lebanon by the Asad regime has many distinctive effects on Lebanon. These effects brought about detrimental harm to the delicate and balanced fabric of the Lebanese Society.
Anti-Semitism: the anti-Semitic sentiment was unfamiliar in Lebanon, but with the Syrian influence the attitude was augmented. The Taef accord deliberately overlooked the Jewish community as the 17th ethnic group in Lebanon.
The Syrians pressed the Lebanese government to pass the naturalization law which allowed about 400,000 non Lebanese to acquire the Lebanese nationality and damaged the critical demographic balance of Lebanon.
According to a 1995 official report, the Syrians have 1,494,000 male workers inside Lebanon. This figure is roughly equal to half the population of Lebanon. The money they funnel back to Syria is tax free which causes a loss in the Central Bank's hard currency reserve estimated at one billion dollars a year.
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