No citizen is safe when brutality and hate crimes are tolerated.
When contacted on Twitter this evening, the Lebanese police said they will follow up on the savage attack on a Syrian man recently uploaded to Facebook.
سوف نتابع الموضوع … شكراً للتواصل #قوى_الأمن
— قوى الامن الداخلي (@LebISF) July 18, 2017
The man is kicked, slapped and beaten by men speaking with Lebanese accents and cursed repeatedly until he pledges allegiance to Lebanon’s army. (Flagged for violence: click ‘watch on Facebook’ to view)
Meanwhile the police have also said they will investigate the physical assault on a boy by a police officer, which was also recently caught on camera and published by Al Jadeed.
Acts of violence, particularly against Syrians, are not new in Lebanon. The most infamous is that of parents coaching a child to beat a defenseless Syrian boy. First with his hands:
And then with a stick:
Even more disturbing is a video of a man threatening to butcher Syrian children with a knife as he waives it in front of them.
“Which one of you should I behead first,” the man tells the crying children.
The story was covered by The Daily Mail, which reported the man had been arrested. Police also said they opened in investigation into the video of the family encouraging the child to hit the Syrian boy, according to a report by Al Jazeera.
But it is unclear what happened to those arrested or investigated and if anyone was held accountable in other cases, such as the beating of this boy:
Meanwhile the Lebanese army has said it will open an investigation into the deaths of four Syrians killed during recent operations against Syrian militants in Arsal. Middle East Eye reported the bodies showed signs of torture.
As a response to much of this violence, a protest was recently held in Beirut to demand basic rights for Syrian refugees. However, some Lebanese media and web personalities reacted angrily, claiming the protestors organized to attack the military, and many have offered jingoistic responses:
But no evidence of protestors attacking the military has been provided. What we have seen is a recent surge in videos of Syrians cursing Lebanese on Facebook.
Many Lebanese were enraged by the videos and feel that Syrians should be grateful for the hospitality. Indeed, Lebanon has hosted far more refugees than any country in the world as a percentage of its population, exceeding European countries allowance of refugees by thousands of percent. The US and European countries have taken in shamefully low numbers of refugees compared to Lebanon and attacks have occurred against refugees there as well, perhaps in even greater numbers.
But none of this excuses the acts of brutality we have been seeing. And chances are, far more abuse is happening than is being recorded on camera.
It is true that many Lebanese have suffered a history of violence from Syrian occupation forces during the civil war and many Lebanese were tortured in Syrian prisons. But let us not repeat the abuses that were caused against us. Let us not repeat the abuses brought against Lebanese civilians and children by Western, Israeli and other Arab forces, even local militias, infamous for their torture and massacres.
If crimes can be justified against one person or group, they can be justified against anyone. We have already seen Lebanese face the brutality of their own security forces during protests of recent years and the government has even banned protests as a whole, including protests by Lebanese citizens who are enduring unprecedented levels of corruption.
It is also true that Lebanon’s army has endured some of the toughest battles of its history while defending territory on its borders with Syria and many young soldiers and senior officers have been killed in those battles.
To truly support Lebanon’s army and the integrity of the institutions they seek to defend, the basic human dignity of all persons in the country should be respected and protected, no matter what their nationality or ethnicity. For the sake of Lebanon’s own safety and the relative freedoms citizens still enjoy, all police and military investigations should be closely monitored and the right to free expression and police accountablity needs to be demanded vigilantly and constantly.
UPDATE (19 July 2017)
Not long after this post, Lebanon’s Interior Ministry Nouhad Machnouk announced on Twitter that the assailants in the first video have been arrested. However the extent to which they will be prosecuted remains unclear.
— Nohad Machnouk (@NohadMachnouk) July 19, 2017