Saniora Meets Plumbly, Eichhorst, Calls for Rebuking Govt. over Syrians Deportation

Posted on: August 04, 2012 at 02:38
Former premier Fouad Saniora, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc, on Friday called on EU and U.N. officials to condemn the Lebanese government “in the strongest terms” over the recent deportation of 14 Syrians to their strife-torn country, voicing concerns that the step might be repeated in the future and stressing that the government will be held accountable.

Following separate talks with EU Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst and U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly, Saniora said: “Amid these circumstances, the timing of the operation is very suspicious, and this could be a precedent made by the Lebanese government following a request or pressures from the Syrian government to hand over these people, and thus it might be the first move and other people might be handed over.”

Lebanon deported 14 Syrians on Wednesday, drawing criticism from human rights activists. The Lebanese authorities said the reasons for the expulsions were not political but a Human Rights Watch representative in Beirut said some of the deportees had expressed fears of persecution on their return.

Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security said that those deported were wanted for common law, not political offences.

''These people were handed over to the Syrian authorities because they had problems with the judiciary and had committed crimes, and as far as we know they were not political activists,'' a General Security official said. ''If they were, we would not have deported them,'' he added.

But Saniora called on “the European Union’s officials and the U.N. secretary-general to address a strong worded letter to the Lebanese government condemning in the strongest terms the dangerous precedent it has committed in this regard, and asking it to refrain from any similar move in the future.”

“We call on the U.N. secretary-general to inquire about the fate of the 14 people,” Saniora added.

He recalled that “one year ago, two Syrian people were handed over and summarily executed on the border, and several other people were abducted and we don’t know anything about their fate, such as former deputy Syrian PM Shebli al-Aysami and the Jassem brothers.”

And as Saniora stressed that the government will be held accountable for the step, he added: “We have several accounts. We heard that the move happened following a request sent to the General Security chief by the Syrian authorities, and we also heard that the relevant (Lebanese) authorities were not aware of what happened, and then the government covered the operation. This is all so suspicious.”

Saniora slammed the deportation as “an ethical mistake against human rights and against all those who signed (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) in this world.”

For his part, Plumbly said after the meeting that the issue was being followed up with the relevant Lebanese authorities, noting that the international community rejects deporting any person to a place where his life could be at risk.

He noted that he would inquire about the exact circumstances of the deportation.
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