Last week fifty Lebanese, regional, and international human rights organizations called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to place an international mission to investigate the explosion that hit the Beiruts port on the 4th of last August.
The Council received a joint letter addressed and signed by these organizations, including International Amnesty, in addition to 62 survivors and families of the victims of the explosion.
The signatories to the letter, published by Amnesty International, called on the council to “establish an international, independent and impartial investigation mission. Such as a one-year fact-finding mission, to investigate the explosion in the port of Beirut.”
As the organizations requested “to help this initiative by adopting a resolution to set up such a mission in the Human Rights Council.”
The letter requested, “An examination concerning whether there were disappointments in the obligation to secure the right of living that prompted the blast in the port of Beirut, and whether there were disappointments to guarantee safe stockpiling or expulsion of a lot of combustible and dangerous materials and disappointments in directing examinations.”
Among the signatories to the letter are
- Human Rights Watch
- The Project on Middle East Democracy
- The Gulf Center for Human Rights.
- The Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
- The Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies.
- The Lebanese Center for Human Rights.
In 2020, a huge explosion occurred in the port of Beirut, killing more than 200 people and wounding about 6,000 others. As well as causing massive material damage to residential buildings and commercial establishments.
According to official estimates, the explosion occurred in the 12 berths of the port, which contained about 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which had been confiscated from a ship and stored since 2014.
Judge Tariq Al-Bitar, the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion said that the technical investigation phase is nearing completion.
Lebanon is suffering lots of crises economically, as witnessed since October 2019, by popular protests accusing the ruling political elite of “corruption and incompetence” in managing the country.
This is how the economic crisis affected prisons, and the government denies it
Slowly, time passes as prisoners behind the bars of the prison, counting the days that they will be free. The conditions of prisoners are miserable these days due to the lack of food rations for prisoners. They also suffer in terms of overcrowding and poor services.
Roumieh prison, east of Beirut, receives approximately 4,500 detainees out of the approximately 10,000 imprisoned by the Internal Security Forces.
Absence of meat
From Roumieh prison, the problem of the quantity and quality of prisoners’ food began with the exacerbation of the economic crisis. Noting that prisoners were getting chicken meals twice a week, this percentage decreased to once every six weeks, stressing that there has been no meat in food for months.
Prisoners’ families were not allowed to bring in food after the spread of the Coronavirus. They became obligated to buy their needs from the prison store, which raised its prices significantly.
Prisoners and their families have been unable to purchase their needs from the prison store due to the high prices.
The solution to the prison problem in Lebanon lies in the issuance of a comprehensive general amnesty law. Human rights organizations have to move and work to help prisoners in Lebanon.
The Lebanese file: neither a president nor a government
Despite six presidential sessions, Lebanon still does not have a president.
The funny thing is, the government is also idle and the whole country is waiting for a miracle to get up again.
France is on the president line!
The head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Representative Gebran Bassil, is expected to visit Paris, which is expected to mark a remarkable development in the presidential file in Lebanon.
The meetings will aim to discuss the imminent presidential, governmental, and economic entitlements of all Lebanese stakeholders.
Based on Basil’s excellent relationship with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi and Hezbollah, the French hope to agree on a roadmap for the presidential elections.
Although the French side does not carry an integrated initiative, it sought to know the position of all parties regarding a list of candidates that includes about seven names.
Those connected to the French ambassador understand that her country still has the American mandate to manage the initiative about the presidential file and that Paris wants to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia that facilitates the task because insisting on fighting harsh battles would prevent the election of a president soon.
President issue: Who does Hezbollah wants?
Hezbollah is reconsidering the local reality from a different angle than the one that preceded the election of President Aoun, as evidenced by Aoun’s recent paradox of reopening half-closed doors.
In contrast to Aoun, the party does not find any justification for repeating the vacuum for more than two years and tightening its internal domestic rams to deliver its candidate.
They are fully aware that choosing to unilaterally elect a president of the republic, and consequently, a government of one color and the presidency of the House of Representatives, means putting the country in direct conflict with the outside world. Everything that surrounds the internal reality is different from the previous stage, as is the position of the concerned countries.
While Hezbollah’s opponents are only mentioning Franjieh as president—or, at the very least, any candidate from the party’s second row—this does not imply that Hezbollah has abandoned its candidate or candidates.
The party assumes entering into early settlements, which means that the party receives its price both internally and externally.
This is because the party cannot bear the idea of losing its candidate and will not bear the idea of any settlement following a vacuum that results in challenges, conditions, and counter conditions.
An alternative situation is possible in addition to that. Except for the March 8 team, there is no president of the country.
Is the former minister Franjieh a serious candidate?
Former Minister Suleiman Franjieh was Hezbollah’s candidate.
Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a fresh French attempt that started a few days ago to forge an agreement on choosing a new president before the year is up and included pledges to start aid programs for Lebanon, including the “Cedre” program.
The debate that the French began with the major parties in Lebanon is anticipated to be finished with Washington and Riyadh and is predicated on the premise that no one can impose a prime minister or president of the republic without a genuine agreement between the major forces.
Hezbollah claimed in 2016 that there was no Plan B for the nomination of General Michel Aoun, and it repeated that claim this time as well: the candidate is Franjieh, and there is a point on the line.
If the two allies cannot agree on a second candidate, there are dangers that no one has the luxury of incurring.
What does The Free Patriotic Movement says?
The Free Patriotic Movement was informed by Hezbollah that the results of naming places below the presidency of the Republic under the General Michel Aoun administration were not encouraging, as the residents of these sites turned against the people who named them to them.
There is a “term” that Hezbollah agreed to, though, which is that it will not attend the election session for the Marada Movement’s leader until he has Basil’s endorsement in his pocket.
The party’s desire to maintain and strengthen the agreement with the Free Patriotic Movement is the most crucial factor, and as a result, “the election of Suleiman will be with Gibran’s consent and not at his expense,” among other factors, including giving Franjieh Christian support that makes him a strong president.
So far, there has not been any serious president, and we are facing many sessions without a result.
Is Lebanon on a date with a long presidential debate, as happened before the election of former President Michel Aoun, or will we witness the election of a president before the New Year?
Death is chasing Lebanon: A new catastrophe took place!
After the crisis in Lebanon and the decline of the economic crisis, many chose illegal immigration as their only escape. Still, on the other hand, boat owners and those involved in this field exploited the Lebanese’s situation to put them in horrific situations that resulted in the “death boat” disaster.
Death boat catastrophe
After an illegal immigration boat left Tripoli in Lebanon, the disaster occurred in Tartous, which helped find survivors. The sinking of the Lebanese boat comes just a week after the death of the Syrian engineer, Muhammad Barjas, his two children, and his wife in the sinking of a migrant boat off the Greek coast.
Many of the victims sold all their possessions to be able to pay for their escape to Europe, and some of them spent more than $20,000 to depart their whole families.
Survivors recount that three hours after the departure of the boat, the boat began to tumble unsteadily, and the sea waves began tossing it in different directions. A survivor reported that all men, women, and children on board felt terror and panic for more than 48 hours as the boat was tossed by high waves.
When he arrived at Al-Basel Hospital in Tartus, he found out that the boat had sunk in Syrian waters, but he didn’t know where it had sunk until he reached the hospital. He mentions that he lost touch with his wife and children, and he wants nothing more than to see them among the survivors.”.
Death is more expensive than life
As if fleeing poverty and hunger from Lebanon was not bad enough, the enormous costs of burials and were paid in dollars, Lebanon’s lost currency.
In one case, a family had to sell everything they owned to secure payment supplies, while another family had to exchange gold for graves, and one charitable group donated two graves to a destitute family to bury their children.
Also Read: Lebanon’s ‘Deliberate depression’
Death boat master is behind bars!
A squad from the army intelligence branch in al-Abdah intercepted Bilal Y after the illegal immigration boat left the beach of Miniyeh on Wednesday night referred to as the smugglers’ “king,” who was in charge of the boat’s journey and which sank the following day off the coast of Tartus, Syria. A security source, however, confirmed that his detention took place at the same time as the boat capsized. “After he made the second trip in less than two months, it was decided to have him arrested. He switched his departure location to Minya after the journey from Al-Abdah beach was abandoned multiple times.
He used to maintain a low profile, but now he utilizes drugs, supports drug usage, and is infamous for being harsh to passengers. On the last voyage, the captain was compelled to set sail despite the small fishing boat being overloaded with 170 passengers due to severe seas, overloads, and running out of fuel. However, the source claims that he sent three armed men to board the boat and force it to set sail. After a few hours of sailing, it was rumored that “the captain jumped off the boat and moved to another boat, convinced that the boat would sink.”
A history of illegal immigration
It seems striking in the tragedy of the drowning of these illegal immigrants from Lebanon, this time the presence of other nationalities other than the Lebanese, on the sinking boat, as there were Palestinians and Syrians on board alongside the Lebanese, and according to multiple sources, the 25 Palestinians on board the sinking boat are A resident of Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon.
According to a BBC report, Lebanon is witnessing a significant rise in immigration rates, driven by a devastating economic collapse that left large sectors of the Lebanese people suffering poverty over the past three years, and the report refers to statistics, according to which the number of those trying to leave Lebanon by sea, in 2021, it doubled more than it was during 2020, according to estimates by the United Nations Refugee Agency, while the number increased again by 70% during 2022.
However, the desperate pursuit of life by many Arab youths is not limited to the Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians only. Incidents of boarding death boats, on dangerous journeys, are repeated in many Arab countries, and news of those who drown in those boats has become a familiar thing in the media. From Libya to Tunisia to Morocco.
The Arab Barometer poll, which was carried out by the Arab Barometer Network, in cooperation with the BBC in 2019, indicated that 20% of the participants expressed their desire to emigrate, and in the age group between 18-29 years, the percentage reached 52%.
It was striking among the results reached by the Arab Barometer poll that those wishing to emigrate showed a willingness to travel without official papers (illegal immigration). In Sudan, for example, the percentage of these people reached 43%, which is almost the same in Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Iraq, and Morocco. While it reached 12% in Lebanon and 18% in Jordan.
Sabra and Shatila: A wound that won’t heal
The Sabra and Shatila massacre is one of the many massacres carried out by Israel with the help of Lebanese right-wing parties, which claimed the lives of 3,000 people on a continuous slaughter for three days.
The blood of the martyrs and innocent children who died in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon will not be washed away after 40 years and the passage of time.
Premeditatedly, determinedly, and prepared, since the establishment of the temporary occupation entity in 1948, one of the largest, greatest, and most heinous massacres in Arab-Israeli conflict history has taken place.
There was no specific target for this massacre, but rather it was committed against all human beings. There were also thousands of Lebanese martyrs and martyrs of Arab nationalities.
Sabra and Shatila: The fateful day
On September 16, the occupation army fired flares over the two camps. Three teams of Phalange Party militias, each composed of fifty armed men, stormed the alleyways of the two camps spread over one square kilometer.
To begin the process of extermination and indiscriminate killing, they used white flags and firearms to deceive the residents and ask them to leave the houses with white flags.
The Lebanese Phalange militia killed everyone present in the two camps and mutilated the corpses, slaughtered children and infants, and extracted fetuses from the mother’s wombs.
They raped many women, robbed them of their jewellery, and killed entire families.
While the occupation army prevented anyone from leaving the two camps, it also prevented the media from entering the area and reporting what was happening.
The massacre took the lives of close to 3,500 Palestinian martyrs over three days and roughly 1900 Lebanese martyrs, in addition to 300 to 500 missing people whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Days passed with the dead still there, and nobody was able to enter the two camps or the nearby communities.
To disassociate itself from the murder, the occupation claimed in a Hebrew book titled “Lebanon 1982 – The Road to War” that the Lebanese Phalange Party carried out the slaughter on its own in retaliation for the assassination of its leader Bashir Gemayel.
Acquittal of Israeli officials
On September 28, 1982, under pressure from the Israeli street, the government of the enemy of Israel was forced to form a committee to investigate “the atrocities committed by a unit of the Lebanese forces against the civilian population in the Sabra and Shatila camps.” It was called the “Kahan Committee,” after the President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Judge Yitzhak. Kahane who chaired the committee.
Kahan’s report, which was issued in February 1983, absolved senior Israeli officials, especially the prime minister, the minister of war, and the army chief of staff, of direct responsibility for the massacre, claiming that they were not aware of what was happening, and denying any role of the Israeli army in the massacre.
The report was satisfied with placing personal responsibility on the then Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon, for ignoring the “possibility of bloodshed and revenge,” which forced him, with mounting pressures, to resign from his position as defense minister only, but he remained a minister without a portfolio.
The occupying power tries from time to time to evade its historical and criminal responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and to hold the Maronites alone responsible for its implementation, despite the approval in the last lines of the decision to allow them to storm the two camps from the highest levels of Israel. Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Affairs Yitzhak Shamir, Mossad commander Nahum Admoni, the army Raphael Eitan, the Northern Command Amir Drori, and Military Intelligence Yehoshah Saguh. These decisions could not be overridden, or skipped, which confirms their responsibility for the massacre.
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