Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Samir Geagea's apology

Here is an interesting article in the LA Times about Geagea's public apology over his actions in the Lebanese Civil War, and the negative responses received from most political circles.

As someone whose main drive in life is to support human rights and justice in Lebanon, I find it difficult to digest Samir Geagea's words.

I have spent much energy on this blog in the past year and a half condemning our political leaders and warlords like Geagea for their 15 years of barbarism between 1975-1990. It revolts me to see the same leaders that destroyed Lebanon 20 - 30 years ago lead the country today. What disgusts me even more is that our blind people allow this absurdity to pass.

I never supported Geagea's release from prison, but I did support a fair trial. Either way, a fair trial or not, he would still be languishing in a prison cell.

When the warlords decided to grant themselves amnesty in 1990, the voices of the Lebanese people - the real victims of the war - were absent.

This is where I disagree with Daragahi when he states in the LA Times article:

"Few care to open old wounds; the war is even excluded from school curricula."

We do care. It was never the people's decision to forget and forgive, and if you wonder through Lebanon, you will find today's pain is prevalent as the Lebanese have been forced to grieve in silence over their lost loved ones.

The people never underwent a reconciliation process, and to undergo such a process one needs to be given the freedom to express their pain.

We didn't, and the dangerous reality today is that the anger of the war generation has been past onto the young. I recall an encounter with a 15-year-old in Lebanon 2 years ago, who stated:

"If a war starts, I will blow up that family's house" pointing down the road. "They support a political party that killed my uncle in the war".

Geagea's apology was courageous, but not historic. And in the Lebanese ambiance of distrust, how do we know that this is not simply another performance?

If Geagea is genuinely remorseful about his past crimes, and bent on preventing them from occurring again, then he would abandon partisan politics, run independently, and promote a grassroots reconciliation process.

Better yet, he would check himself into The Hague for war crimes along with all other warlords and criminals currently leading both political camps.

What gives Geagea or any warlord the right to absolve themselves of guilt?

If Hitler apologised to the Jews, would that exonerate him? If Saddam apologised to the Kurds and Shi'ites, would he be alive today?

I accept Geagea's apology, but he still must pay for his crimes, along with the other leaders. Eleven years without a "winter or a summer" isn't enough for someone who stole the seasons from thousands of innocent Lebanese and Palestinians.

My stance remains: A tribunal at The Hague investigating war crimes committed in the Lebanese Civil War.

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