Authorities lowered the boom on Gen. Michel Aoun’s supporters and Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces activists Tuesday, charging they used the climate of freedom in Lebanon to stage disorders and abuse President Lahoud’s regime.
The two opposition groups said many of their young men and women were either arrested or summoned to interrogation by army and police intelligence services without legal grounds. More than 15 Aounists were arrested before noon Tuesday in Beirut’s Dora neighbourhood as they were distributing the weekly newsletter of Gen. Aoun, which harshly criticized the president, sources said.
Four other Aounists were detained on the same grounds on Sunday and were turned over to the judicial military authorities for legal interrogation.
The LF said dozens of its activists were summoned for interrogation and an undetermined number of them had been detained in connection with the demonstrations staged during the patriarch’s tour of the Chouf region over the weekend.
There were instances of friction between the LF activities and the security forces during the patriarch’s visit. An LF delegation traveled to the patriarch’s summer residence in Diman to seek his good offices to free the detainees.
The arrests were made in the Chouf region southeast of Beirut as wells as Byblos, Batroun and Koura north of the Lebanese capital.
A communique from the Lebanese army command said, “Lebanese elements in the interior have used the climate of freedom to abuse the highest authorities in a way that contrasts the ethics of political conduct.”
“This conduct occurs at a time when Palestinians are suffering enormously at the hands of the Israelis,” the communique said. “The army command is taking all the necessary legal proceedings to correct the situation.”
LF activists and the Aounists have flexed their muscle during the patriarch’s tour of the Chouf, turning out en masse in banner-wielding demonstrations to greet the Maronite pontiff and shout slogans against the Lahoud regime.