Some 1300 students gathered on Wednesday at the Dikwaneh Technical Institute to commemorate the ninth year of the disbanding of the Lebanese Forces and campaign for the freedom of the group’s imprisoned leader, Samir Geagea. The rally started by playing “the martyr,” a song written by LF activist Ramzi Irani, who was kidnapped and murdered last year in an unsolved crime. The song also demands Geagea’s release.
“Ten years have passed since they wanted to finish off the Lebanese Forces by disbanding it. Some thought that accusing the Lebanese Forces would turn public opinion against it. By imprisoning Samir Geagea, they wanted to transform us into an outlawed group,”
Eliano Mir, head of the LF technical student department told the rally.
Mir demanded that the government drop all charges against Geagea and his LF comrades.
He said that no LF party could exist as long as its leader remains imprisoned, and that without a free LF party and a free Geagea, national consensus would remain incomplete.
“We will not rest until we achieve a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon. We promise Geagea that our priority will remain with his release. We know that his freedom is also the freedom of Lebanon and for this freedom we’ve lived and we’ll continue living,” said Mir.
Students gathered under two giant pictures of Irani and Geagea and interrupted speakers by chanting “God loves Saint Charbel and Saint Charbel loves the Hakim (Arabic for doctor, Geagea’s nickname).” They also chanted “In the name of God and Saint Elias, Geagea is coming back to (his) bunker.”
LF activists then announced the start of a campaign to circulate a petition calling for the freedom of Geagea.
The text of the petition asks for signatures on the basis of “national consensus.”
Students also raised LF flags and photographs of LF founder Bashir Gemayel, the president-elect, assassinated in 1982.
“By assassinating you they thought they assassinated the cause, but we promise you that we are following on your footsteps,” read one of the banners.
“Students of the Lebanese Forces have sacrificed a lot of martyrs and blood and we promise that we will work hard to achieve our dream of establishing a country for all the Lebanese to live in freedom and dignity,” said Joseph Geagea, an LF student activist.
Students then called on each other to join in a prayer for world peace “in line with the stances of our father (the Maronite) Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir.”
Students also chanted “O our great patriarch, keep your eye on the Hakim.”
The government outlawed the LF on March 23, 1994 and arrested its leader Geagea shortly afterward on charges of the bombing of the Saydet al-Najat Church in Zouk Mikail.