Waiting for justice for a 30-year occupation

Ten years after the Syrian occupation of Lebanon ended, hope for justice remains

Nayla Tueni

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Ten years ago, the Syrian army, who we never believed would withdraw from Lebanon, did just that. We never believed that Syria occupied Lebanon to defend it and we’ve certainly never believed that it wanted to protect the Christians.

Syria, like Israel, played the sectarian tune to stir disputes among the Lebanese people, and in turn pushed a group to cooperate after being besieged, and then suffocated by it. Israel also pushed other groups to later seek vengeance against it.

This is how Israel controlled the Lebanese arena for a while. Damascus did exactly the same as it harmed Lebanon from within. But it also harmed its image and deprived it of its international presence under the slogan of “parallel paths” and the “unity of path and fate.”

'Justice for our martyrs'

Syria controlled domestic decisions via its intelligence apparatus and via agents it was in total control of. We no longer hear the Syrian regime’s allies in Lebanon explain unity to us after the eliminations the regime committed against its men. We can also not hear them explain whether these acts will target the “allies” of these murdered men in an attempt to eliminate the effects of the war crimes which were committed during 30 years of tutelage, and during ten years of direct interferences. The confession of former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha is nothing but proof to that.

We can see how murderers are dying, one after the other and in the same way they killed their victims

Nayla Tueni

We’ve previously said we want justice for our martyrs and for those missing in Syrian prisons and not vengeance. Walid Jumblatt said he awaits those who murdered his father at the river’s edge and we wait with him. We don’t want to gloat at anyone, and we still mainly believe in the justice that comes from God.

We secondly believe in the justice of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. However we can see how murderers are dying, one after the other and in the same way they killed their victims.

Victims of the terror

Earlier this month, Lebanon commemorated the anniversary of the withdrawal of the Syrian army. This celebration echoed in the capital, Damascus, which Ghazi Kanaan and Rustom Ghazleh are now absent from, and which now lacks security as its residents witness a shelling similar to the Syrian regime’s shelling of Beirut.

It’s not the Syrians’ fault, just like it wasn’t our fault in Lebanon, as they are the victims of the terror of an infuriated regime. Yesterday, I recalled statements which Gebran Tueni wrote the day after the Syrian troops withdrew in 2005.

He wrote: “The Lebanese people cannot forget that Syria governed Lebanon for 30 years and that it benefitted from it and from its funds and bounties and also from its (people’s) earnings and efforts. Syria also contributed to dividing the political and familial society and worked on preventing the unity of the Lebanese people and prevented their reconciliation in implementation of its divide and rule policy.

'Abducted and detained men'

This is in addition to its role in the war and to its acts of abduction, murder, destruction and displacement.

Our stance on the Syrian presence, and from the rift which the latter caused among the Lebanese people, does not cancel out sincere desire to establish the best relations with Damascus - especially after its troops withdraw from Lebanon - and to turn a new page entitled mutual respect and trust which cannot be achieved unless the abducted and detained men in Syria are released. (It also does not cancel our desire) to establish diplomatic ties between (Syria and Lebanon).

If the Syrian army withdrew under duress, then it’s certain that its political leaders have not learnt from all these developments, and have not decided to adopt rationality and logic when responding to others. They have rather continued to adopt the same terrorist style and they are currently paying the price of what they committed.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on April 30, 2015.
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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