Antelias, August 28th, 2001
The World Forum of Professionals in the Secular and Religious Media in Lebanon is once again deeply concerned about what has reached the reality of media and public freedoms in Lebanon. It witnesses lately the blackest days after the new national covenant, whereas the fundamental characteristics of the cedar nation in its several forms, namely media, academic, intellectual and social freedoms, are subject to a threat which danger is aggravated, causing damage to Lebanon, place of pacific coexistence and interaction of cultures, religions, and a pattern place of democracy and human rights in the Arab East. The statement included the following:
1. Attacking the members of the educational body of the University, after the attack of the members of the media body, is a forerunner with a sign which includes a dangerous threat to academic freedom which always characterized the educational institution and Lebanese mass medias, and made Lebanon a brilliant center of culture in the region and the world. Attacking intellengtias and publicists represents an aspect of underdevelopment and a failure in facing the true problems from which suffers the country in all sectors and struggle fronts for a more immune society against all forms of decreasing and nullity. The blindness and silence about this catastrophic reality represent an escape from the civil and national responsibility and an indirect collaboration in the Court regarding the most evident components of Lebanon, pioneer of the Arab renaissance and constructor of the active resistance in the face of the Israeli enemy.
2. The Forum denounces the contradictory methods empty of any transparency related to the deal with the retained reporters Antoine Bassil and Habib Youness, as if by linking their cases to the cases of the condemned to death and the ones required to appear before the interrogation, it is meant to condemn them outside the law, the Court and time reality, pretending to have forgotten that the fundamental principle of human rights is that the suspect remains innocent until his condemnation is proved by the just and honest Court. 3. The Forum is waiting with a great interest, alike all citizens and the persons interested in freedoms destiny, the investigation results of the arbitrary aggressions against hundreds of citizens before the Justice Palace, congratulating the ones who were declared innocent and liberated. It considers that the persistence of investigations due to laws and the revealing of trueness before the public opinion, with transparency and justice, is necessary for the return of the confidence between the people and the power figures, and for Lebanon’s image remains generous inside and outside.
4. The Forum sees in the reconciliation wave which happened by the visit of the Maronite Patriarch to the mountain, and in the colloquiums of the last assemblies of kurnet Chihwan meeting, the democratic tribune, the democratic modernization, and the conference supporting freedoms and others, a beginning of constituting a real reconciliation and a constructive dialogue regarding the main issues stipulated by the Taef Accord.
5. The Forum invites all officials in all power positions to benefit from this painful experience which shocked the Lebanese conscience and the world conscience in order to take the lesson from what happened and is happening lately on the Lebanese territory, for acting together and with everybody in order to realize a global national reconciliation accompanied by a global condonation of all political retained and prisoners, on the behalf of a national contract guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. Thus, it will be the real guarantee of the military and economic security instead of persisting in violence and frightening which do not serve the beneficiaries from it but for a passing period.
Translated by: Joyce Tary