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On the 16th of July, 2017, the Socialist Forum issued the following statement explaining its decision to cancel a demonstration in solidarity with Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon.

Logo of the Socialist Forum in LebanonOn
Friday June 30th, 2017 at dawn, a faction of the Lebanese Army raided
two Syrian refugee camps (Nawar and Qareiah) in the town of Arsal, in
what was officially designated as a “preventive raid” in
search of “terrorists” based in the camp.

As a
result, several people were killed, amongst them a child, and several
soldiers were wounded due to a suicide bombing inside the camps. This
was followed by the arrest of more than 350 Syrian refugees based on
their alleged potential link to “terrorist” organizations.
Soon after, photos of the detained held under inhumane conditions and
subject to torture and humiliation, were circulated in the press.

A few
days later, on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, the army announced that four
Syrians who had been arrested during the raids on the camps on Friday
(June 30th) died in detention as a result of “chronic diseases
and climatic conditions.” However, the images that were
circulated through social media channels clearly revealed bruises,
wounds and the effects of torture on the bodies of the victims.

The
Army’s statement about the circumstances that led to the death of the
detainees was rendered even more dubious when they exerted pressure
on the families of the victims to bury the bodies immediately,
without the right to a coronary or forensic examination, access to
lawyers, or even photographing the deceased.

In
addition, the Military Intelligence intervened on July 7th, 2017 to
disrupt a judicial decision issued by the Judge for Urgent Matters in
Zahle, authorizing the examination of samples from the autopsies.
Military intelligence personnel confiscated the evidence held at
Hotel Dieu hospital from the lawyer granted power of attorney by the
families of the victims, in a clear case of judicial obstruction by
the military courts in order to withhold evidence related to
civilians who were not definitively shown to have been involved with
any terrorist associations.

This
attack on Syrian refugees is not the first of its kind. It indicates
a dangerous escalation within the framework of an organized racist
campaign against refugee populations by ruling class parties, who are
using various state apparatuses in Lebanon to impose curfews, close
the border to those fleeing the war in Syria and deprive them of
their most basic rights, which are universally guaranteed under
international law. Furthermore, the General Security has imposed
impossible conditions for the renewal of residency permits since the
beginning of 2015. These conditions are only aimed at turning
refugees into illegal aliens, making them easier to exploit and
increasing the precarity of their living conditions. This policy of
limiting mobility has gone hand in hand with raids, evictions and
arbitrary arrests over the last two years, as well as the continuing
threat of forcible repatriation to a country still embroiled in war.

Within
this context, a large group of Lebanese activists gathered on July
13, 2017 to organize a solidarity rally for Syrian refugees, against
racism, and against the repression that occurred following the events
in Arsal. The goal was to attempt to restore, and strengthen, the
relations between Lebanese and Syrians, hoping to counter the
discourse of hatred and racism. The Socialist Forum called for a
sit-in in solidarity with Syrian refugees to take place on Tuesday
July 18th, 2017 at the Samir Kassir Square in Beirut. Three members
of the organisation were in charge of getting the permit clearance
from the Municipality of Beirut, following the usual legal procedures
for organizing a protest in Lebanon. However, given the atmosphere of
fear and intimidation that followed the widespread incitement
campaign that was launched by a shady intelligence Facebook page
called the “Syrian People’s Union in Lebanon”, and taking into
account the numerous threats received by some of the organizers, the
Socialist Forum decided to cancel the sit- in.

However,
it is important for us to clarify that contrary to what is being
circulated in the media and on some social media platforms, the
Socialist Forum is not attempting to incite against the Lebanese
Army. As per its statement on July 13, 2017, the Socialist Forum is
simply asking for:

1. A
transparent and independent investigation to uncover the causes of
the suspects’ deaths.

2. A strict public accountability for
all those involved in torture, murder, and other forms of abuse.

3.
Revealing the fate of the remaining arbitrary detainees, their
release and compensation.

4. The
end of the exploitation of the refugee issue for political
manipulation, and to stop treating it as a security threat. 5.
Abolishing all racist decisions against refugees, and the end of
practices that forces them to return against their will to brutal
killings and massacres, as the regional and international community
remains suspiciously and criminally silent.

We, at
the Socialist Forum, condemn all the rumours and accusations made
against our comrades in the media and through social media or social
networking platforms. We strongly condemn the leaking of the protest
permit request document from the Beirut Municipality which mentions
the names of three comrades and their telephone numbers. We also
condemn the bias media coverage and the circulation of the a names
and photos (and Facebook pages) of our comrades by many of the local
television channels. The circulation of this leaked document has put
the three activists under serious and severe danger reaching death
threats. The Socialist Forum would like to point out that Beirut
Governor, Ziad Chebib, specified to the news that the protest permit
request has nothing to do with the “Syrian People’s Union in
Lebanon”, and that the protest request had no mention of the
Lebanese Army, but was rather planned as a sit-in against racism
towards the refugees, as opposed to what rumours are claiming.

Despite
the fact that the Socialist Forum has organized numerous solidarity
meetings with Syrian refugees over the years, this is the first time
that the call for a sit-in has received so many open threats. We
believe that this incitement is aimed at paving the way for an
all-out war in Arsal, and imposing a deal with the Syrian regime
within the framework of a settlement that would require the forcible
transfer of Syrian refugees to so-called “safe-zones” within
Syria.

Therefore:

1. We
categorically reject any alterations to the objectives of the sit-in
that puts it in the context of a confrontation against the Lebanese
Army, especially that the Socialist Forum has previously condemned
the bombings that targeted the Lebanese Army in Arsal on June 30,
2017. It also condemned the kidnapping of the soldiers and security
forces in that region and called on the Lebanese state to take
responsibility on this issue.

2. We
call for the Beirut Municipality to provide an explanation for the
publication of the permit request document in such a way, to cause
incitement and marginalization, and we hold it responsible for any
harm that might be inflicted on members of our political
organization.

3. We
ask media outlets to circulate a clarification containing the
accurate statements and information, including the calls for the
sit-in and this clarification statement.

4. The
Socialist Forum shall resort to the Lebanese judiciary at any time it
sees fit to prevent any bodily or physical harm on its members.

The Socialist Forum in Lebanon
Beirut 16-07-2017

Country or region:
Lebanon

Rights:
CC by NC 4.0

Citations

[1]Lebanon: statement of condemnation and clarification by the Socialist Forum | openDemocracy .... http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/opendemocracy/~3/almv8FUdhfM/lebanon-statement-of-condemnation-and-clarificatio[2]Statement of condemnation and clarification by the Socialist Forum | المنشور | المنتدى الاشتراكي .... http://al-manshour.org/node/7521[3]Lebanon: statement of condemnation and clarification by the Socialist Forum | openDemocracy .... http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/opendemocracy/~3/almv8FUdhfM/lebanon-statement-of-condemnation-and-clarificatio