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In Lebanon, saving one should not mean harming another

Not all Lebanese should pay the price in the campaign to save the kidnapped soldiers

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

Perhaps, the most significant words that were said about Lebanon’s closing of the roads for security reasons came from Roman Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Zahle, Issam Darwish.

He said: “We stand by the kidnapped soldiers without any doubt; they represent Lebanon and each one of us. They are paying the ransom for us. We stand by their families and feel their pain. They are right to ask the government to do what it has to do to release their kidnapped children. However, at the same time, we wonder if closing the roads is the most effective way to reach their demands? Does destroying the economy of Bekaa and isolating it from the rest of the areas bring the soldiers back? I have never heard that one civilized country in the whole world resorted to this type of protest. I ask the families to look for a better way that does not harm their fellow citizens and that is more effective in freeing our kidnapped soldiers.”

There is no room for intransigence regarding people’s right to life and freedom, especially if they are soldiers who were abducted on the battlefield by terrorist groups

Nayla Tueni

He spoke the bitter truth that no one dared to say. He was perhaps criticized, as often happens on social media. Telling the truth is always costly. Criticism, albeit sometimes hurtful, does not exempt us from saying truth.

The truth is that our government falls short in this matter because the negotiations, and not trade, are an urgent and necessary duty. There is no room for intransigence regarding people’s right to life and freedom, especially if they are soldiers who were abducted on the battlefield by terrorist groups that do not abide by any law or treaty protecting the abducted victims. The pain of the parents cannot be assuaged by expressions of sympathy or fleeting emotions expressed in front of cameras, even though the Lebanese’s feelings of solidarity are honest.

However, not all Lebanese should pay the price, especially soldiers who cannot reach the location where they must serve. Moreover, people are not allowed to go the capital’s hospitals for urgent health issues and the crops of the farmers who live in the Bekaa valley cannot reach the markets. Blocking the roads in Qalamun, Dahr el-Baydar, Tarshish and Rashaya, among others, does not serve justice. Exerting pressures on the government is not achieved by punishing the poor, the sick and the students who send all their children to the army and who are compassionate toward the kidnapped and their families. Exerting pressure is not achieved by behaving like members of militias, but by creating different ways to put pressure on the government and ministers in order to force the Cabinet to hold a special session aiming to result in a clear decision on this matter, instead of having contradictory and confusing stances.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on September 29, 2014.

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Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni

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