Recently on Twitter I have witnessed an increase in support for the Lebanese army. It seems as though these days, the Lebanese army is the only group of which majority of our very divided community can agree on. With things getting heated in Tripoli between Salafis and Alawis, it is the duty of the Lebanese army to maintain safety especially with the crisis in our sister country Syria influencing the stability of Lebanon.
While many can argue that the army is incompetent and unequipped to fight a war, and this has been made evident on numerous occasions, the support for Lebanon’s soldiers is tenacious as they have been able to provide at least internal security between rival factions and sects. With the help of European and Russian training and weaponry donated by several countries, the Lebanese army is able to keep things settled down.
However, in Lebanon I’ve come to find that adoration has made it easier for exoneration. Many Lebanese will deny the crimes in the past, or present, to simply suite their political views. I found this to be the case recently.
As I said earlier, I can understand the dedication to Lebanon’s army. No one can deny those who have fought and died to keep permanence internally. But it seems to me, in these few weeks, the army has been glorified in a way that has made them seem flawless. And this is most definitely not the case.
Yes I am talking about the Palestinian refugees of Lebanon, a very controversial and tense topic in Lebanon due to previous clashes between Palestinians and Lebanese. With the 2007 Nahr ElBared conflict still fresh on the minds of Lebanese everywhere, tensions have only become worse within the two communities. Since then, the camp has been besieged by the army making life there that much more difficult that it already was.
From my observations of visiting the Bourj ElShamali Refugee camp in South Lebanon, I witnessed the Lebanese army humiliating young Palestinian refugee scouts simply trying to leave the camp to visit a presentation on psychological and physical illnesses. As perhaps the only one of Lebanese descent t in the bus, I was incredibly ashamed at this action. I knew from previous accounts that this was not the first or last time this had happened and this was not the only camp that had been made victim to this type of humiliation. I could not fathom what the purpose of that was and if it was absolutely necessary that the army had to stop us to search a bus full of kids.
Lest we forget the crimes of the army on June 15th, when Lebanese soldiers shot and killed an innocent 16 year old bystander, Ahmed Qassem, in Nahr ElBared after an argument with others. News of the murder was conflicting and untypically, much unconfirmed news hit the world wide web- some even claiming that the victim was a part of an armed faction.
As someone who is avid in the cause of Palestinians in Lebanon, I was disgusted by these claims. The Lebanese army have been oppressing Palestinian refugees in Lebanon for decades, humiliating them and depriving them of easy access to to obtain basic necessities. While many will argue that it is to maintain stability, and while that may be justified with many cases, the downright lack of respect for refugees by the army is absolutely unacceptable and unforgivable. The army shows little patience for Palestinians and usually results in poor restraint when it comes using violence against them. To me, the army is using similar tactics of the Israeli army by disallowing even the simplest action of patience and understanding. Maybe if we had a little bit of that, young Ahmed Qassem’s life would have been spared.
Read “Ramblings of a tired Arab girl” about my feelings regarding Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.