By JEHAN SALEH
DEARBORN, MICHIGAN –
With allegations that Syrian refugees were tortured and killed by the Lebanese army the refugee crisis has worsened for both the Lebanese and Syrians. The Human Rights Watch alleged that the Lebanese army tortured three Syrian detainees. A doctor with expertise in documenting torture said the injuries were “consistent with inflicted trauma in the setting of physical torture”. The Lebanese Army is fighting against ISIS members who infiltrated the Syrian refugee camps in the Beqaa and this is the problem that leads to the clash between the Lebanese Army and Syrians refugees.
According to the U.N. refugee agency, Lebanon hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. International agencies around the world are pouring millions of dollars to assist with the refugees. The large number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the failure of the Lebanese government to manage this influx with respect to human rights are posing security threats and is an economic burden to Lebanese people who are already tired of the deteriorating conditions they are forced to live in. With Syrian refugees living in tents, walking the streets and sleeping in smoldering hot Beirut streets the Lebanese people are becoming more and more frustrated. According to a UN specialist, “The majority of Syrians migrating into Lebanon come from low socio-economic status and education. Thus, the crime rates have increased and Lebanese are on high alert. Further, job opportunities have decreased because Syrians do the job for less money.” Some municipalities are imposing curfews against Syrian refugees as a retaliatory measure directed at Syrians terrorist fighting against the Lebanese army, northeast of Beirut in Arsal and against some crimes perpetrated against Lebanese citizens such as killing, raping, and stealing. These curfews, imposed by some municipalities against Syrians, are considered violations of human rights. The rise in unemployment levels, loss of wages and crime rates is heightening the gap between the Lebanese and Syrian refugees every day. Fascism and racism between the two parties is solidifying. It's a burden too heavy for the Lebanese and Syrian refugees to bear. Moreover, terrorists affiliated with Al Nassra, Isis, and other militant factions is on the rise as a result of their involvement in the camps during humanitarian aid by International Organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, EU and others. These problems are a result of the failure of the Lebanese government to manage this crisis with respect to human rights and the limited capacity it has as a governing state without affecting security, economy, and social stability.
Social media is used as a place for war and social hatred, pushing messages that request Lebanese citizens to boycott purchasing foods and goods from local businesses who hire Syrians refugees. The Syrian refugees consider themselves victims of the Lebanese Army’s practices and torture which led to a movement opposing the Lebanese Army on social media. Facebook pages entitled, “Pro –Syrian Refugees” and “Anti-Lebanese Army”, have sprung up on Facebook encouraging more dissension between parties. Any mention of torture, abuse and neglect of Syrian prisoners in Lebanon is met with silence. The problem is the only institution that is unanimously accepted and supported by Lebanese society is the Lebanese Army. This latter is considered “sacred” and it is deemed unacceptable to criticize it, especially because it is protecting civilian lives against Isis and “Jabhat Nosra”. A Lebanese deputy said, “Whoever criticizes the Lebanese Army should go to jail”, and this statement is widely supported by the Lebanese people.
While the Lebanese army fights terrorism, international human rights should be upheld. Silence in Lebanon must be stopped. In order to advance as a society, violations of human rights of any form must be addressed. Social justice and responsibility are crucial elements to advance the Lebanese society. Torture and other forms of atrocities of wars must be addressed. An investigation of the Lebanese Army in the Syrians refugee’s camps is needed in order to educate people about the respect of human rights and laws.