The Need for an International Commission of Inquiry.
A very painful matter that is inflicting enormous agony on the Lebanese society is the problem of the Lebanese who are victims of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention in Syria’s notorious prisons.
Since 1976, the Syrian forces in Lebanon had been perpetrating arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances against thousands of Lebanese citizens. They had been illegally transferred to Syrian jails, with total disregard for the rule of the Lebanese and International laws. Some of the detainees were released, others died in custody due to sickness, torture or extra-judicial executions, and the rest of them are still enduring the cruelty of the Syrian prisons.
It is evident from past and present experiences that the government of Syria will persist in denying any human rights violations and it will not allow any serious investigation into thousands of cases, and there will be no solution to the problem unless the Syrian government should first officially acknowledge the presence of Lebanese detainees in Syria, then apply the principles of transparency and accountability to address it.
Since 11 April 2005, the longest open-ended sit-in ever in the Middle East has been taking place right across the main entrance to the U.N. House in Beirut. The mothers, the sisters and the wives of the victims of enforced disappearance have come together and staged the sit-in in order to demand the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to look into the hundreds of cases of Lebanese victims of enforced disappearances at the hands of the Syrian intelligence in Lebanon. Taking into consideration the obligation of States under U.N. charter and other international instruments to promote respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and also taking into consideration that Syria had been, in a persistent manner since its entrance into Lebanon in 1976, arresting Lebanese against their will, followed by a refusal to acknowledge their arrest and to disclose their fate and whereabouts, the United Nations should establish a commission of inquiry to ensure the following:
1- The immediate and unconditional release of the Lebanese detainees in Syria in a manner permitting reliable verification that they have actually been released and in conditions in which their physical integrity and ability to exercise their rights are assured,
2- Make available an official Syrian up-to-date register of all the Lebanese who were and still are arbitrarily detained in Syrian prisons and secret detention centers since 1976 and up till April 26, 2005, of those who were extra-judicially executed in Syrian detention centers, and of those who died in Syrian detention centers;
3- Unearth mass graves on Lebanese territory especially in the vicinity of Syrian intelligence headquarters and of which we have clear indications and information.
After 2 years into the sit-in, the families’ candle of hope is still lit and both the families and the victims of these Syrian violations are walking the road of freedom, of life and perhaps … death.
- The Lebanese Detainees in Syria: >> View Movie << (2007-05-01)