LEBANON: Open letter to Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Since the end of the military operations in Lebanon in 1990, the families of the victims of enforced disappearance in Lebanon have been waiting for the State to redress their grievances. There are mothers who have been waiting for their loved ones for almost 10 years at the tent of the families of the Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons – a tent located around the corner from the headquarters of the Council of Ministers in the hope that their voices and their demand of claiming the right to know the fate of their loved ones can reach you.
We believe in the continuity of the State and its responsibility to find a solution to this drama based on the ministerial statement of the successive governments including the government of National Unity headed by HE Mr. Saad Hariri which pledged in article 35 of its ministerial statement that “the Lebanese government considers the issue of the missing Lebanese a humanitarian and national issue and will give it the necessary attention and care to reveal their fate out of respect for the right of their families to know and in order to promote national reconciliation and to put an end to the tragedies of this issue within a framework of tolerance and love”.
Lebanese society needs to see the State accept its responsibilities towards its citizens and more particularly towards the families of the victims of enforced disappearance. These people have been waiting for decades for a practical gesture that would represent a first step on the road towards the launching of a complete action plan to solve the issue of the victims of enforced disappearance and the missing through a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation commission.
We the undersigned wish to find a comprehensive solution to this issue and thus we send to your Excellency this memorandum to urge you to approve the establishment of an “Independent National commission for the victims of enforced disappearance and the missing” which would be concerned of finding a practical mechanism to resolve the issue of enforced disappearance in Lebanon. This is according to the draft decree establishing the National Commission which was submitted to the Council of Ministers in March 2012 by the former Minister of Justice, Chakib Qortbaoui, and which the current Minister of Justice, major General Ashraf Rifi, conveyed his approval of to you.
Your Excellency, today you can bring back hope to the hearts of the families by putting the issue of their children on the right track through putting the draft decree on the agenda of the next Beirut, 10 December 2014 meeting of the Council of Ministers. It will then be for everyone to bear their responsibility in front of the public in adopting this decree and establishing the national commission so that serious and scientific work can begin in order to identify the fate of the victims of enforced disappearance.
Your Excellency, we insist on the urgent nature of this cause since, as we explained to you during our last meeting, we are afraid and worried about the fate of the victims of enforced disappearance and more specifically about those who are still alive in the secret Syrian prisons. Our fear is that the current state of chaos in Syria could undermine any hope of bringing themg them back alive.
Your Excellency, some might recommend to you to wait because the issue of the victims of enforced disappearance and the missing in their opinion concerns those who are already deceased. However we assure your Excellency that it is also an issue of people who are alive in Syrian prisons. Do you think that those who are languishing in the darkness of the Syrian jails and have for years been suffering from physical and mental torture have the luxury to choose the time and place to wait for solutions that may never come?
Today, we entrust your Excellency with this project and with the aspirations of the parents in the hope of a positive response to our request.
- SOLIDE (Support of Lebanese In Detention and Exile)
- CLDH (Lebanese Center for Human Rights)
With the support of:
- ACAT-France (Action by Christians Against Torture)
- AEDH (Working together for Human Rights)
- Alef – Act for Human Rights
- FEMED (Euromed Federation against enforced disappearance) - FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights)
- EMHRN (Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network)
- Khiam Rehabilitation Center