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Testimony at the UN

Commission on Human Rights, 61st Session,
March 14 – April 22, 2005
________________

Item 8:   Occupied Arab Territories

Joint NGO Statement For Lebanese Freedom and
End To Syrian Occupation



To download the audio file, click here.



Delivered by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses
Chairman of UN Watch
March 23, 2005

Co-sponsored by:

UN Watch
Freedom House
Droits et Démocratie / Rights & Democracy
Transnational Radical Party
Association for Democratic Initiatives
Association of World Citizens
Fundacion “8 de Marzo”
Intersos – organizzazione umanitaria per l’ermergenza
Liberal International
World Information Transfer
International Association of Educators for World Peace


 ________________

Mr. Chairman,

From the cedar mountains of Lebanon we hear freedom’s ring.  When one million courageous men and women gather in Beirut—defying the Syrian occupation—to speak for the right of the Lebanese people to freedom, self-determination and sovereignty, we hear freedom’s ring.  When the image and message of the “Cedar Revolution” reaches around the world—and most importantly to audiences within the region—we hear freedom’s ring.

And this ring inspires the world.

It inspires the world with the faith that Lebanon’s glory day as a beacon of liberty in the Arab world can become reality once again.

It inspires the world with hope that the people of the Middle East are willing no longer to permit their countries to remain unmoved by the wave of freedom that swept the rest of the world during the last two decades.  “Kifaya”— “Enough”— as the new democracy activists of Egypt say.

And, most concretely, the Cedar Revolution has inspired a moment of unprecedented international unity, with the nations of the world joining in one voice to tell Syria to put an end to its 30-year occupation, respect international law and implement Security Council Resolution 1559.

Today, those who stand for freedom in Lebanon are empowered by the knowledge that they are not alone.  Today, they stand mighty and free like the cedars.  Today, they know the whole world stands with them.

Mr. Chairman,

The Lebanese people did not always know this.  The sad truth is that, until quite recently, they knew the opposite.

The Lebanese people knew, for example, that even as Syrian military and intelligence occupation forces perpetrated one gross human rights violation after another, the Commission on Human Rights remained silent to the crimes of the Syrian occupation, indifferent to the suffering of the Lebanese people.

Indeed, when UN Watch spoke last year in this plenary for Lebanese freedom, it was a lone voice.  Moral indifference encouraged the Ba’ath occupier, and disheartened Beirut’s dissidents.  As the world considers how to remedy the failings of the Commission, its willful blindness toward the occupation of Lebanon might serve as a case study in how situations of systematic human rights violations are too often ignored by this Commission.

We recall the suffering imposed by the Syrian occupation, the human rights violations that cry out for condemnation by the Commission and its special procedures:

  • The suffering of hundredsof Lebanese civilians, believed to have been killed or “disappeared” by Syrian occupation forces or its secret police.

  • The suffering of Samir Gea’gea’and Jirjis al-Khouri who were subjected to an unfair trial—a violation of Articles 9(3) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—followed by ten years of solitary confinement in cruel and degrading conditions, ruinous to their physical and mental health.  While held incommunicado in pre-trial detention, Mr. al-Khouri was reportedly tortured to extract “confessions”.

  • The suffering of legal scholar Dr. Mohammed Mograby, endlessly persecuted for the crime of campaigning for investigations into judicial corruption in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, and for an inquiry into the “disappearances” of two Lebanese transferred to Syrian custody in 1997.  As recently as February 26 of this year, Dr. Mograby was unlawfully detained for ten hours by the Sureté Generale forces, based on a “warrant for interrogation” that was denounced by Lebanese human rights groups as contrary to fundamental due process.  Dr. Mograby was interrogated on charges of “assaulting the standing of the state” and “doing bad things to the military establishment.”

In the words of Lebanon’s Habib Sadeq, head of the Democratic Forum, the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services “transformed Lebanon into a police state.”  To condemn these violations, UN Watch has submitted a draft resolution to this Commission at document number E/CN.4/2005/NGO/308

Freedom has momentum.  It is our hope and belief that if Damascus fully abides by Resolution 1559, and surrenders its police state in Lebanon, the winds of freedom will then carry into Syria itself, bringing an end to:

  • emergency rule imposed since 1963; harassment and imprisonment of human rights defenders and other non-violent critics of government policies, in violation of Article 25 of the Syrian Constitution;

  • repression of free expression, association, and assembly, in violation of Articles 38 and 39 of the Syrian Constitution;
  • discrimination against ethnic minority Kurds, in violation of Articles 25 and 26 of the Syrian Constitution;
  • legal and societal discrimination against women in violation of Article 45 of the Syrian Constitution, where victims of rape or domestic violence have little means for redress;
  • provision of support and safe haven to entities and persons who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, in violation of Security Council Resolution 1373.

Mr. Chairman,

Lebanese freedom under Resolution 1559 requires not only Syria’s withdrawal.  It also requires the government of Iran to withdraw its Revolutionary Guards who illegally occupy Lebanon, with units operating openly in the Bekaa Valley and along the southern border.  Similarly, Resolution 1559 requires the full disarming of Hezbollah—which is funded and armed by Iran in violation of Resolution 1373, and which cannot claim to be for Lebanon when it is for foreign occupation, nor a political party when it possesses 12,000 missiles.

Until Syria, Iran and their client Hezbollah comply with international law, the men, women and children of Lebanon will never see the freedom, peace, stability, sovereignty and dignity that they each deserve.  Thank you.





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