Friday, December 16, 2016

If it were you, wouldn’t you want to know?

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If your son, your daughter, your brother or your sister disappeared during the Lebanese war, wouldn’t you want to know if he or she is still alive? What about your father, your mother, your husband or you wife? Wouldn’t you wish to burry their remains if they died, then properly mourn them? Wouldn’t you yearn to be finally reunited with them if they were alive, and take care of them for the rest of their days?

If you do, you can understand how the families waiting to know the fate of their loved ones feel. Haven’t they waited long enough? The war ended 26 years ago and still they wait. How can anyone talk about fixing anything in this country when this most basic, most humane issue has not been resolved? Obviously, the answers they’re seeking will take time. But working on finding them needs to start immediately.

Shockingly enough, nothing has been done for 26 years, and nothing will be done if a law is not passed in Parliament. A law establishing a National Commission for the Disappeared and a DNA database.

There’s draft law to that effect. It just needs to be voted on by MPs to become official. So work can finally start and families can begin to hope for an answer, and maybe, hopefully, see again the loved one they lost.

Ghazi Aad fought for such law to exist. For over 11 years he stayed in that tent in Downtown Beirut, together with the families of the Disappeared. For 11 long years, they stood their ground, while almost everyone told them to give up and go home, when most Lebanese only said “harâm” every once in a while, when the news on TV mentioned them for a few seconds.

Ghazi Aad died before this law could become a reality. The best way to honor him is to demand that it’s finally voted on.

Tomorrow, Saturday December 17, a national petition will be launched to do just that. This petition will travel throughout Lebanon, from city to city, from village to village, to get every Lebanese to sign it, if he or she wishes to. The launch of this petition, along with a short and simple ceremony in honor of Ghazi Aad, will happen at noon in Downtown Beirut, at the Gibran Khalil Gibran Garden, facing the ESCWA building.

I know I’ll be there, and I hope you’ll be too.

© Claude El Khal, 2016

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