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Lebanese Prisoners: Who Betrayed Who?

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victor | 30 April, 2005 14:28

A very hot topic nowadays in the Lebanese media is the presentation, discussion, and analysis of the psycholgical and social aspects that the Lebanese prisoners faced in Syria and Israel throughout the past 30 years. This topic is two-fold and must be approached from two points of view which are totally independent from each other.

The first point of view is humanitarian whereby all prisoners must be evaluated equally: How did Israel and Syria violate Human Rights?
The second point of view is political: Who betrayed who, how, when, and why?
How Did Israel, Syria and Lebanon Violate Human Rights?

No matter how this topic is to be addressed, basic human rights of prisoners must NOT be violated in any form. History, in general, and our present situation, in particular, is full of many prisoners who were denied their political rights, prisoned in one way or another, and condemned for false reasons while their human rights were still being preserved. Two very famous examples of such cases, in Lebanon, are Gen. Michel Aoun and Dr. Samir Geaga.

General Michel Aoun was expelled outside Lebanon, to France, where he stayed for 15 years. He was also deprived his right from having his salary, visiting Lebanon, appearing on local TV stations, talking to journalists, etc. His human rights, however, were still being preserved and were untouched. Now, Gen. Michel Aoun is seen innocent by the same political regime that expelled him outside Lebanon.

Dr. Samir Geagea, on the other hand, has been in prison here in Lebanon for 12 years now. His political party (the Lebanese Forces) was terminated and were forbidden from political participation since then. Dr. Geagea, however, still enjoys his basic Human Rights while in prison.

Israel and Syria, on the other hand, invaded the basic human rights that every human being must be given. Lebanese prisoners in Syria and Israel were tortured to the maximum extent possible and in ways that no mind can imagine or grasp. Many died while being tortured and many were injured, parallelized partially or totally. It was NOT a machine that ordered the torture and it was not nature that tortured the prisoners. The source of torture was another human being - in full conscience - who designed, implemented, tested, evaluated, and re-designed the art of pain on other human beings.

What I heard from prisoners yesterday during Kalam El-Nass, was not a story of pain. It was a story of the Art of Pain being created and performed by human beings on other human beings.

The words of torture, pain, fear, tears, cry, scream, beg, loneliness, abuse and even death became meaningless as I heard the prisoners describe what they survived. They were simply thanking God for being able to survive what another human being planned and performed. It wasn't a natural crisis: it was human-made.

This fact in itself, i.e. the ability to nullify the meaning of death, is the worst crime that any person or country can perform towards Human Rights and this describes the whole case of Syria and Israel violating Human Rights.

As for Lebanon, one wonders if the Lebanese Government violate the Human Rights of these prisoners as well? The answer follows.

All prisoners who came back to Lebanon faced two problems:

  • Society rejected the prisoners at first, and then slowly started accpeting them (as some of the prisoners mentioned). This problem is natural and is mainly caused by the society not knowing the main reason for being prisoned. The solution for this problem is to help the prisoner cope with the society by defining the weak points causing the rejection of the society and helping the prisoner strengthen them to better cope with his daily life.
  • The Lebanese Government, on the other hand, betrayed all prisoners in many ways. Although the hero-traitor definition was well-established from the government's point of view by calling prisoners in Israel as heroes and calling prisoners in Syria as traitors, neither the heroes nor the traitors got the help that was promised by the government. Thus, both parties felt depressed and betrayed by their own government while both parties, as mentioned during the show, said that the society started accepting them day after day. This denial of rights from the Lebanese Government is, yet, another violation for Human Rights.

The Lebanese Government, in summary, was completely absent and did not do anything of what it was supposed to do. It did not help any of the two parties socially, financially, or psychologically. The only help came from the social organizations sponsored by other Lebanese citizens. Furthermore, the vague definition of traitor and hero lead to having the two parties rejecting each other. Instead of the two parties working together to defend their stolen human rights, the two parties were afraid of each other. Credit goes to Kalam El-Nass for taking this topic one step further by unveiling the truth about both parties being mis-treated by the Lebanese government.

Who Betrayed Who, How, When, and Why?

This topic was very interesting in yesterday's show since it almost caused a fight. Mr. Ghanem took the appropriate steps by moving into a commercial break. The story is simple: Dr. Ahmad Ayyash gave a partially-right opinion using wrong expressions at a wrong time with the wrong people.

What Dr. Ayyash was trying to say is that torturers have existed way back throughout history. Torturers are motivated by a strong belief that the torture they cause to prisoners is a revenge for what these prisoners have done to their country, families, etc. Torturers do NOT know and have no way to know whether the person being tortured is innocent or not. This is what Dr. Ahmad Ayyash was trying to say. The main purpose of saying these words, as I guess, was to ask the prisoners to ease their sense of revenge to avoid entering an endless loop of revenge, revenge, and more revenge.

The words, however, that Dr. Ayyash used, were polymorphic and were explained by each prisoner in a personal manner. Thus, the prisoners sensed that Dr. Ayyash was claiming that the torture they survived was a punishment for what they have done. This, added to the fact that these prisoners did nothing at all and were falsely judged, prisoned and tortured, almost started a fight during the show.

This is not the main point of this section, though. What Dr. Ayash missed during his comment was that the term betrayal needs to be defined first being being used in a public conversation where each party will define it according to its own beliefs.

So the main question is: What does betrayal mean in this case? Did the prisoners betray Syria? Did the prisoners betray Israel? Who betrayed who? How? When? and Why?

If we are to take the case of the prisoners in Israel, then the answer is Yes. Prisoners who were in Israel did in fact betray Israel. This, however, is normal since Israel in this case is the enemy of these prisoners. Of course Israel still violated the Human Rights of these prisoners by torturing them. The reason, however, does make sense and can be seen (but not accepted) as an act of revenge from Israelis.

Prisoners in Syria, on the other hand, did NOT betray Syria. The majority (not all) of the prisoners who were interviewed in Kalam El-Nass were prisoned for personal revenge and other personal reasons that militia and political members created and supported. Some of these prisoners were even fighting Israel (the enemy of Syria) when they were caught by Syrian Intelligence and prisoned in Syria.

For these prisoners, they were jailed, tortured, and released for something they didn't do. Their future was lost for something that someone (somewhere) decided to ruin. They were not fighting in a war, they were not killing enemies, and they were not transmitting confidential information. They were either on their way home from work or sleeping at home when they were captured by Syrian agents.


The two points discussed above describe a MAJOR difference that everyone must take into consideration when analyzing the social and psychological case of the prisoners who where in Syria and the prisoners who were in Israel.

Prisoners who were in Israel are the type of prisoners that many wars witness. They were fighting for a cause, they were captured, they were tortured, and then they were released. Their return home is always seen as a return of heroes who were fighting enemies to achieve victory.

The prisoners who were in Syria, on the other hand, did NOT enjoy the same pleasure. They were NOT fighting Syria and, yet, they were caught by Syria, tortured, released and condemned as traitors by their own Government and treated as such.

The main question still stands with a minor change: Who betrayed who? The Prisoners vs. the Lebanese Government

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