Amidst the political brouhaha taking place across the Middle East today, I’m afraid we are beginning to forget about a very importance puzzle piece in the face of the Lebanese political situation today.
What has brought this to my attention again were the protests that erupted in Syria on March 15th and the hope that rekindled in me that Syrians would find it in them to take these protests the long way and come out triumphant, toppling down the system that has made their lives – and ours – a living hell.
In Syria today is a group of Lebanese people who, the least you can say about them, have been killed without them dying. How so? Hundreds of Lebanese have been taken as political prisoners to Syria, never to be seen or heard from them again. Sure, the most logical conclusion you can draw is they were killed… but what if they’re not?
These Lebanese prisoners have been slowly turned into second degree political prisoners. Why? because Syria, after all, is not our “mortal enemy” like Israel and therefore, Lebanese prisoners in Syria are not as worthy of attention as their counterparts in Israel. And so the length that some parties go to in order to liberate the prisoners they have in Israeli prisons, they simply do not make for these prisoners, even though they might be the only parties in the country who have the means to currently do so.
Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons are treated like less than human beings. One of the few who got out alive is a school teacher from Tripoli who told about her torture through a process called the “tire” (Douleib). They basically put her inside a tire and hit her with electric cords, not caring where the cords slammed her. Her eye was hit and it erupted like an egg in a frying pan. They did not care. They kept on hitting her.
Contrast that with Samir Kuntar, who, according to many, has committed one of the worst crimes in Israeli history. He came out of Israeli prison as part of an exchange safe and sound. He even married an Arab Israeli in prison and she received monthly payments because he was a prisoner. And while in prison he also pursued a university degree. When Kuntar was “liberated”, he received a hero’s welcome by the party that sought out his release. When the teacher I mentioned earlier was released, she went into oblivion. And in my mind, that is seriously wrong.
So today, I plead to the humanitarian side of those who still have it. It looks like the political party who has the means to help doesn’t care at all. Therefore, I hope with all my heart that something comes out of the Syrian protests that would lead to some closure for the families of the Lebanese detainees and hopefully a new page in the story of the Lebanon-Syria relationship where we are seen as equals and not a province that wasn’t.