Hunger strike for “those who die in silence”


By Assaad Thebian
Also published in EMAJ Magazine and Demotix.com


LEBANON. “Dr. Abdel Meneem is a Sudanese community leader and refugee in Lebanon since 23 years. He went on hunger strike for 16 days in September and October this year to demand the ending of racist policies and arbitrary detention against Sudanese people and other marginalized communities in Lebanon. Throughout these days, he was visited by some security forces, which harassed and urged him to stop his hunger strike and leave the strike place”.

With this paragraph along with a youtube link for a video demonstrating how the Lebanese security forces (ISF) were treating Dr. AbedelMeneem Mousa Ibrahim, Farah (www.farfahinne.blogspot.com ), a human rights activist decided to report about what was considered a major hunger strike for human rights campaign in Lebanon last week. Dr. AbdelMeneem’s hunger strike has two messages to deliver:
1. lobbying and pressuring the General Security in order to free the arbitrarily detained Sudanese from Lebanese prisons
2. asking the Sudanese Embassy to reelect the committee of the Sudanese cultural club by the people. His arguments (though his faint voice) were that the “Embassy should take care of its people and the proper treatment they receive in the Diaspora” and that the elected board of Sudanese cultural club “should be done by the people and that its members are not appointed by the regime (Embassy)”.
Dr. AbdelMeneem explained to human rights activists visiting him that his hunger strike was to make honor to “those who die in silence in prisons, for no other reason but being refugees”. The Lebanese State however, according to the words of its own Minister of Interior, Ziad Baroud, is “a non refugee accepting state”. The words of the minister are the result of a peaceful sit in and demonstration that the Lebanese activists organized in front of his Ministry on Thursday 7th of October. The minister also addressed the demonstrators issuing them to give him “full names of ISF members, who were mistreating any foreigner for proper punishments”. Baroud also emphasized on the importance of having the migrants “raising their issues in front of the Court” before they are deported or set free.
The statement however is contradicted with a comment of one of the protesters: “How are they supposed to fill in their papers while they are held in custody and no relative is allowed to take care of their papers”. No response for the last sentence, although the minister has taken into ease to go outside his ministry’s parameters and talk freely and in public to people holding posters such as: “From civil society, to arbitrary detention… Ziad Baroud”.

 

Ziad Baroud @beirutnightlife

 

More harsh slogans were pinned over Dr. AbdulMeneem head in front of the Sudanese cultural club where he had his 16 days sit-in. Some of those banners were addressing the Sudanese Ambassador with quotes such as: “Suheil Edriss the butcher, go home”. New visitors especially from Lebanese NGO’s and media kept pouring to the location day by day, some dragged by curiosity, others because they believed in delivering a political message to the Lebanese government stating: “It is enough, refugees deserve a better treatment”.

Members of CHAML, Leftist Assembly for Change, Nasawiya and IndyAct (all Lebanese NGO’s and not necessary representing their organizations) were seen every day. Many of them declared that their presence meant “to protect Dr. AbdulMeneem from being beaten, harassed, or even arrested by the Lebanese security forces”.  Only few Sudanese were able to show up because many of them do not have legal papers and were afraid to be caught and deported. But Omar, a Sudanese living in Lebanon, accompanied with his two children, always showed up to massage the Dr’s legs and make the blood circulate through his veins.

The sit-in ended in success with the Minister of the Interior promising to follow the situation of the 18 Sudanese detainees in prison and to release those whose papers are regulated. Another achievement was the approval for electing a democratic committee representing the Sudanese community in Lebanon in the cultural club. But who can guarantee the implementations of those steps? The answer is simple: No one. All one can do is to sit back and wait until the promises are fulfilled and the right of people to live with dignity is achieved.

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