Antelias, March 2nd, 2001
1. The World Forum of Professionals in the Secular and Religious Media in Lebanon is deeply concerned about the perseverance of pressures on publicists and media institutions. The latest one was the pressure on the “Al Dabbour” caricatural magazine represented by its Director Chief, the colleague Joseph Moukarzel, who was demanded by one official service on the contrary of the publications law. The Forum considers that such procedures represent a threat to the press freedom stipulated in the Constitution and Lebanese laws. It claims to stop these methods which aggravate the disfiguration of the image of Lebanon, while it badly needs to have a good reputation respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, whereas worldwide and national lights are shed on the visit of the Lebanese President to the Vatican and France.
2. The Forum conveys the issue of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, noting that certain politics and finance forces are trying to persevere in monopolizing mass medias for the service of their interests and their private objectives. Thus, as the Forum recalls that the main mass media goal is to serve the public good and the entire society, it considers that trying to impose a directed supervision is supposed to limit the institution freedom and annul the fondamental function of mass medias.
3. After the closing of the Television of Lebanon and discharging a great number of employees in the ministry of Information, the Forum is concerned about the increase of unemployment in the rank of publicists, especially that this step came after the closing another number of private media institutions as the Nida’ Al Watan and Hiwar, in addition to severe financial difficulties from which suffer most of Lebanese mass medias. As the Forum understands the courageous decision of the minister of Information, Ghazi Al Aridi, it wishes that this latter and all officials follow the conditions of qualified publicists, in order to find them jobs in these difficult economic conditions.
4. The Forum draws the attention on the content of the statement lately issued by the Amnesty International and the report of the US Secretariat of State, regarding the dangerous violations of human rights in Lebanon, mainly media freedoms, and relevant corruption aspects which draw an image which harms the reputation of Lebanon in international tribunes. Thus, the Forum considers that affronting such image is not restricted on denying the realities inside these documents but in treating these transgressions. As the Forum salutes the program of criminal procedure law executed by the committee of legitimate administration and justice and considers that “every person is innocent until his condemnation is proved”, it indicates that some practices on the territory contradict with Lebanese laws, mainly the arbitrary detentions. The Forum which principles are based on defending freedoms in general, and media freedom in particular, considers that the first mission of Lebanon was and is still the freedom. Attacking this freedom means attacking the identity of Lebanon.
5. The Forum observed a beginning of awakening and restlessness in certain Arab countries represented by the movement of a great number of intellengtias in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Emirates, Palestine, Algiers, Tunis and others, calling for the establishment of a pluralist media and to enlarge the space of public freedoms. The realization of these actions is necessary in order to rise and develop the Arab World, so it assures welfare, security and freedom for its people.
Translated by: Joyce Tary