Sites of Interest
(courtesy Empire Burlesque)
A Tiny Revolution
William Blum/Killing Hope
The Distant Ocean
Welcome to the Sideshow
Mark Crispin Miller
Crooks and Liars
Black Agenda Report
The Raw Story
Iraq Vets Against the War
Blues and Dreams
Bright Terrible Spirit
now the district Capitol, is about 400 miles south of Tripoli in the
Saharan desert, and is one of the four main areas that NATO concedes is
still controlled by pro-Gaddafi loyalists,(the other three are Sirte,
Bani Walid, and Jufra) and for that reason NATO has intensified its,
sometimes, seemingly indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas. Today,
NATO is desperately wanting to announce “mission accomplished” and put
an end to its ill-conceived mission “to protect Libya‘s civilians”, that
President Obama assured the World nearly 7 months ago, “will last days,
not weeks.” NATO continues to hope that no one bothers to carefully
examine what it wrought here because no person of good will would accept
its massive gratuitous carnage.
NATO’s bad luck it that its war on Libya’s civilian population continues to be documented and it will be held accountable, at least in the court room of public opinion and conceivably elsewhere.
It was from Sabha, following the 1969 September 1st Fatah Revolution that Gaddafi announced “the breaking dawn of the era of the masses".
Today Sabha, with a usual population of around 130,000 is now less than half that but hosts a few thousand Palestinian refugees, who appear to avoid current Libyan politics. Some are survivors of the 1982 Israeli facilitated massacre at Shatila camp in Beirut and they insist that no Palestinian or Hezbollah groups were fighting anywhere in the East or around here. Maybe a few individual Palestinian members of the Benghazi based Muslim Brotherhood happened to be Palestinians but that was about all the gathered explained.
Many of Libya’s Palestinian refugees in Libya, like those is the Diaspora, desperately seek to learn what became of their family members who disappeared before, during and following the events of Sept. 15-20, 1982.
Palestinian refugees, like their Lebanese sisters and brothers suffer
unrelenting pain and anguish as they resolve to take concrete steps to
learn what happened to their loved ones.
Thousands of Palestinians, like Lebanese from all the sects, became victims of enforced disappearances, abductions and other abuses.
Dr. Bayan Nuwayhed al Hout -- author of "Sabra and Shatila: September 1982" told this observer: "I'm positive that dozens of people were buried there with the help of bulldozers. The bulldozers were used to get rid of the dead bodies."Author Al Hout is referring to the fact that Israel supplied bulldozers, paid for by my American taxpayers, to their allies, the right wing Christian militia that committed the slaughter with Israeli facilitation.
The late American journalist, Janet Lee Stevens, documented that during Sept. 18 and 19th, most of the massacre victims killed during this period were slaughtered inside the joint Israeli-Lebanese Forces “interrogation center.”
Janet testified that these killed were
put in flatbed trucks and taken to the Golf Course, just 300 yards away,
where waiting Israeli bulldozers dug pits. Other trucks drove in the
direction of East Beirut.
At the time of her death, seven months later, Janet was preparing her report for publication.
This observer packed Janet’s belongings and after some wrangling with the US Embassy staff who had arrived on the plane President Ronald Reagan sent to return Janet and the other Americans remains to the US, her two cardboard boxes of papers and research notes were onboard.
Unfortunately, but understandably, a family member, who I was advised did not understand Janet’s work in Lebanon, discarded her papers, following Janet’s funeral in Atlanta Georgia and before they could be collected by the University of Pennsylvania for analysis and preservation.
What needs to be done to locate the missing Palestinians and Lebanese?
These Palestinian and Lebanese families have no idea if their loved ones are dead or alive. Obviously they are unable to organize a dignified burial or even properly grieve. Families of the disappeared suffer from a series of legal, financial, and administrative problems that result from not knowing what became of their missing loved ones.
A recent Amnesty International study of Lebanon’s problems on this urgent subject included the experience of Wadad Halawani, the founder of the Committee of the families of the Kidnapped and missing in Lebanon. Wadad described her life after her husband was taken away from their home in Beirut in September 1982, apparently by agents of Lebanese military Intelligence, the Duexsieme Bureau (also controlled by right wing militia leaders). Wadad was forced to raise her two young children, aged six and three alone following his disappearance, and she described how she “lost her balance in life.” She did not know “how to protect the children from the rockets” and was “lost for answers to their endless questions” about their father for which she had no replies.
From knowing many families of missing husbands, Wadad outlined the problems faced by them, personal, social, legal, administrative, and economic.
On the personal and social level, she explained that a Palestinian or any woman in Lebanon, whose husband is missing is neither a married woman nor single, divorced or a widow, and for all that time she will have faced serious problems and obstacles linked to the low status of women.
On the legal and administrative level, she explained that “a woman cannot spend her husband’s money nor dispose of his property, such as selling his car, as she does not have power of attorney allowing her to do so. Nor can she get a passport for herself, nor for her children if they are under 18 as the guardian required the father even though the mother is raising the children. On the economic level, Wadad told Amnesty International that most of the missing people are from poor families, so the loss of the breadwinner has had devastating impact. In many cases, the families have been unable to cover basic daily needs, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and the costs of education.
The families of missing and disappeared Palestinians and other persons have the right, under international law, to the truth which means a full and complete disclosure about events that transpired during the disappearance of their loved ones.
In March 2010, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that this includes the right to know the exact fate and whereabouts of each victim.
International law and human rights standards also require each party
to an armed conflict must take all feasible measures to try and account
for people reported missing as a result of the conflict, and release all
relevant information concerning their fate or whereabouts.
This applies to Israel during the September 1982 massacre. More than once over the past three decades Israeli officials have reported that Israel has detailed records of what its sponsored militias did inside Shatila camp and on the periphery with respects to eliminating terrorists and hiding their remains.
To date Israel has refused UN and international demands to turn over its records. The international community must sanction Israel until it complies with international law on this subject.
In addition,friends of Palestine including NGO’s and relevant UN
agencies should immediately establish an agency cooperating with
independent experts and representatives of civil society, including
relatives of missing individuals, in cooperation with the Government of
Lebanon to investigate the fates of every missing Palestinian and
Lebanese including locating and ensuring protection for mass graves and
for exhumations, to be carried out consistent with international
standards to identify human remains and match them with DNA from
relatives.The Embassy of Palestine in Lebanon would be a good choice for
organizing the collection of DNA samples from Palestinian families with
As many Palestinians and their supporters arrive at Shatila camp in Beirut this weekend, the thoughts of Palestinians in Libya and the diaspora, land their friends around the world will be with them.
As a young Palestinian lady in Sabha told this observer, and sounding very much like Miss Hiba Hajj in Lebanon’s Ein el Helwe camp:
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon. Dr. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp
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