Date: March 23, 1994 Ghedras, Lebanon It is with great disappointment that I called for this conference with the foreign press corp in Lebanon. It was my ultimate wish to be able to report to you that my country is on the right track of a DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. Such a process which would have brought about the PARTICIPATION of the various sectors of the Lebanese society in the NATIONAL DECISION MAKING PROCESS through:
- Free elections
- The strengthening of non-governmental institutions
- The strengthening of Municipal and local authority
- The incorporation of women at the decision making levels
This is the Lebanon the Lebanese Forces have always envisioned and struggled to be part of. This is the Lebanon which the Lebanese Forces gave up all its weaponry and military machine to obtain.
By accepting the Taef accord and entering the National Reconciliation Process, we wanted Lebanon to move forward on the road of freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and equality through CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES. This is the Lebanon we hoped to participate in and to pass to our children.
I sadly report to you that this Lebanon was no to be, at least not for now. As you well know, the Lebanese Forces has been sustaining a ferocious attack during the past two weeks, for no other reason
than its refusal to be a false witness to the massacring of these ideals which the Lebanese people have always cherished.
The Lebanese Forces and the wide sector of the population it represents, along with many other refused: To be a false witness to the 1992 parliamentary elections in which only 13% of the total population have participated in.
To be a false witness to the whole agenda of the authorities since those elections, and to an agenda built on the circumvention of the main democratic principle of SEPARATION OF POWERS.
to be a false witness to the refusal of the authorities to abide by the simplest forms of checks and balances, which any true democratic system requires, no matter what.
During all these long months, we and our people have refused, but not been vocal, hoping that the men in authority would sooner or later realize the road of destruction on which they are leading the country, and would thereby reassess their course. But when the lives of our people were hit in the most sacred of places, we considered continued silence to be, in itself, false witnessing.
It is the outcry of most the National and International leaderships against the Church Massacre, and not the Massacre itself, which has caused this onslaught on me and on whom I represent. This Massacre exposed those who are in charge of peoples lives in Lebanon to be inadequate to say the least, and what better scapegoat to cover up this mess than those who refusing to be the false witness.
With no balance of power existing at the representative and decision making levels of authority, the rest was easy.
First a blockade of the Lebanese Forces Political Headquarters, along with the refusal to allow news reporters in with their recording equipment.
Next, a mass wave of arrests of tens of our supporters, as usual, without the least respect to basic human rights. Blindfolded, and thrown into the trunks of military vehicles, those arrested were required under continuous torture to INCRIMINATE THEMSELVES in the church massacre, only to be released days later with no charges being filed, while lawyers were denied the right to see them for the duration of their detention (1).
An assault on the administrative headquarters of the Lebanese Forces followed, where the whole surrounding neighborhood was included in the assault. Mean, women and children were dragged at five in the morning from their homes happened to be located next to these headquarters. the authorities broke down every door, destroyed much oft he property and left, only to come forty eight hours later to expel all personnel, while setting up shop for themselves, where they remain to this very minute free to implant evidence at will.
In the mean time, with every government official having his favorite media outlet to leak information to, a coordinated MIS-INFORMATION campaign was launched against the Lebanese Forces, and me personally in reprisal for openly opposing the way authorities have been conducting the affairs of the nation. Even the Christian clergy were accused of participating in the so-called conspiracy to embarrass the Maronite Patriarch and all politicians who spoke out against such Police State activities.
No charges were filed, government officials are distributing sentences left and right, while people and properties are under assault. THE DUE PROCESS OF LAW IS IN SHAMBLES.
The fact that the Vatican newspaper published a threat Pope John Paul II had received to attack Christians in the Middle East because of his newly established relations with the State of Israel, was no more than a detail for the Lebanese authorities.
This Lebanon cannot be sustained, no such system can be sustained today anywhere in the world. The Soviet Union is now CIS. Jaruzelski’s Poland is now Walesea’s Democracy. This is the pathway of nations today, and no individual or government, no matter how authoritarian, can turn back the clock.
Lebanon has always been at the forefront of enlightenment in this region. It is these mountains which have been the front lines of free thought through the ages. It is these ports which introduced the free economic principles to the countries of the region, and it is the same people exercising the modern values of freedom which is capable of spreading such ideals eastward.
Allow me to send an urgent message through you, the foreign press corps in Lebanon, to the Historical Bastions of freedom and democracy in the West: the Congress of the United States, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, the National Assembly of France, along with all other true democratic institutions around the world to come and assist Lebanon in its battle for democracy.
The world community prevailed when it came to aid Eastern Europe in its battle for freedom. The Middle East is in a battle for peace today, while fundamentalism is using all power at its disposal to rupture this peace. The only way to achieve this peace and sustain it is by supporting and thereby spreading democracy where it can be found.
Lebanon today is the front line of this battle in the Middle East. The Lebanese Forces are at the forefront of this battle in Lebanon.
True Democracy is what we will be witnesses for.
(1) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, U.S. Department of State: Lebanon, February 1994, page1235-1244.