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Lebanon: Fresh Attention For Lebanon's Missing and Abducted People

Few people thought the Lebanese Civil War, which erupted in 1975 after the Ain el-Rammaneh Massacre and raged on until October 1990 when the Syrian army took control of Baabda Palace, would cause the deaths of over 150,000 people, the disappearance of 20,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese of all sects and backgrounds.

This left families searching across the country for information about what happened to their children. After the war, a commission was established to investigate the fates of the missing, which focused its efforts on raising awareness of the issue of the missing and kidnapped people to the government and civil society organisations by means of demonstrations and protests in front of the offices of the United Nations and human rights organisations.

Recent kidnappings carried out since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution have made abduction a constant threat once again and have drawn new attention to the issue of Lebanon's missing people.

Recent kidnappings include: that of the Syrian Shably al-Aisee from Aley in Lebanon last year (his whereabouts remain unknown); the kidnapping of three Syrian activists in Lebanon that had surrendered to the Syrian authorities; and the abduction of 11 Lebanese in northern Syria at the end of May 2012.

Human rights activists responded to these events by writing articles on their personal blogs and social networking sites to shed fresh light on the issue and are working in partnership with the commission for missing people which is currently campaigning with new tools and techniques in the streets of Lebanon and Syria as well as online.

The missing: their fates depend on the proposed law.  <a href="http://www.almuhasaba.com/" target="_blank">"Accountability"</a>. Used with permission

The missing: their fates depend on the proposed law. “Accountability”. Used with permission

As a part of the solidarity campaign, the families of missing and abducted people wrote [ar] ‘a message to Widad Halmani: the eye resists the awl‘ on the blog “Accountability”, the online magazine of the national campaign for the pursuing of the criminals of the civil war:

بعد خطف زوجها عدنان حلواني في أيلول عام 1982، لم تستسلم وداد للواقع. وضعت اعلاناً في صحيفة، طالبة اجتماعاً لأهالي المخطوفين أمام مسجد عبد الناصر في كورنيش المزرعة. وإذ بالشارع مملوء بنسوة بعضهن يحمل أطفالهن الرضع. مشهد أظهر حجم الكارثة التي أحلت بلبنان، ووضعها في مساحة صغيرة. عندها بدأت مسيرة وداد للمطالبة بحقوق ذوي المخطوفين والمخفيين قسراً في معرفة الحقيقة: ماذا حلّ بأزواجنا وزوجاتنا وأبنائنا وبناتنا وأطفالنا؟
After her husband Adnan Halmani was kidnapped in September 1982, Widad refused to surrender. She put a notice in the newspaper calling for a meeting for the families of the kidnapped in front of the Abdel Nasser Mosque on the Corniche el-Mazraa (Beirut). The streets filled with women, some carrying young children, and the scale of the tragedy that had taken place in Lebanon was clear. The marchers called for the rights of the missing and abducted and demanded to know the truth: what happened to our partners and children?

The interview with Widad Halmani was shown on the program “special visit”, broadcast by Al Jazeera, which examined the planned “law for missing and abducted people” currently being drafted in coordination with civil society organisations that hope it will be adopted by the Lebanese authorities.

On her Twitter account, @NadineBek, Nadine Bekdache wrote [ar]:

العفو العام لازم مراجعته فهو إجراء يبرئ المسؤول ويدين الشعب #Lebanon #Amnesty
@NadineBek: The general amnesty needs to be reviewed: it absolves the perpetrators and condemns the people #Lebanon #Amnesty
The general amnesty: it absolves the perpetrators and condemns the people. Nadine Bekdache on Twitter @NadineBek. Used with permission

The general amnesty: it absolves the perpetrators and condemns the people. Nadine Bekdache on Twitter @NadineBek. Used with permission

The victims’ families continue to fight for their right to know what happened to their children, not just those that are still alive but also the dead. They also continue the struggle for recognition from the war's survivors in society at large.

The blog “walls of Beirut” wrote this [ar]:

إنّ حقّ المعرفة، الّذي أصبح مبدءًا عامًّا مكرّسًا في الاتفاقيات الدوليّة والقانون الإنساني، هو حقّ جماعي وفرديّ في آن. فلكلّ ضحيّة الحقّ بمعرفة الحقيقة حول الانتهاكات الّتي طاولتها، لكنّ يجب إعلان الحقيقة أيضًا على صعيد المجتمع كضمانة تحول دون تكرار هذه الانتهاكات.
The right to know, which is a generally accepted principle in both international and personal law, is both a public and a personal right. Every victim has the right to know about the crimes they were affected by but the truth should be known by all to ensure that these atrocities are never committed again.

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