Solange Bashir Gemayel and Strida Samir Geagea teamed up in leading the yearly memorial for the martyrs of the Lebanese Forces Sunday amid spiraling calls for the release of LF commander Samir Geagea from nine years in solitary confinement at an underground dungeon in the defense ministry compound of Yarze, the Beirut media reported on Monday.
An estimated 20,000 banner-waving LF activists turned out for the special memorial service at The Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in suburban Harissa north of Beirut , which was held under the auspices of Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the head of the Maronite Catholic church.
Calling for a genuine reconciliation to end the lingering effects of the 1975-1990 civil war, Mrs. Geagea said in a prepared speech from a make-shift podium at the Cathedral’s courtyard that her husband’s release should be the intro to the hoped-for true national reconciliation.
“In the turmoil emanating from domestic quarrels and controversies, we are enjoying with excellence a special treatment of around-the-clock persecution,” Strida Geagea said amid prolonged applause. A poster hanging over her head read: “Our martyrs do not die.”
She reminded the authorities that Samir Geagea, as LF leader in 1989, was the first Christian militia commander to uphold the Taif Accord that halted the civil war and was the first to hand over the LF arms to the state in 1990 to help the government to reestablish its eroded authority in the country.
“But there have been many faults in applying the Taif pact, culminating in Samir Geagea’s imprisonment, which drowned Lebanon in the dark tunnel of a victor over a vanquished,” Mrs. Geagea said.
Clad in black, she was the last to enter the Harissa Cathedral, shaking hands first with Solange Gemayel, widow of President-Elect and LF founder Bashir Gemayel, who was assassinated in a massive bomb blast on Sept. 14, 1982, only a week from his scheduled swearing-in ceremony.
Mrs. Geagea also shook hands with Nadim Gemayel, elder son of Bashir Gemayel, and with Maj. Gen. Nadim Lteif, personal representative of exiled General Michel Aoun. A wide assortment of Christian opposition politicians greeted Strida Geagea and Solange Gemayel as LF activists brandished portraits of Bashir Gemayel and Samir Geagea embroidered by the LF flag.