Montréal, Canada - October 31, 2003

October 2003 - Vol. 4

RCPL October 2003 Newsletter includes the following items:

1.
Sign the petition to release Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons 
2.
Lebanon’s ranking for press freedom collapses
3.
A Canadian MP calls for a true democracy and the end of Syrian occupation in Lebanon 
4.
RCPL launches a scholarship
5.
American Lebanese community pressures the UN on UNSCR 520
6.
Tension at Southern Lebanese borders

1. Sign the petition to release Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons

A new section has been added to our web site. Please visit it at:
http://www.rcplonline.org/archives/actions/action.htm


2. Lebanon’s ranking for press freedom collapses

Lebanon, once considered to have the most press freedom in the Middle East, saw its ranking collapse from 56 to 106 in the past year. This ranking is produced for 166 countries by Reporters Without Borders. RCPL has notified the Canadian Foreign Affairs department about infringement on press freedom and liberty of expression, which include shutdown of television stations, arrest and beating of demonstrators and censorship. While no actions have yet been taken, RCPL recommends that Canadian authorities leverage our leading presence at the United Nations and request that a rapporteur investigates the case of freedom of expression in Lebanon.

3. A Canadian MP calls for a true democracy and the end of Syrian occupation in Lebanon 

OTTAWA-Canadian Alliance Foreign Affairs Critic, Stockwell Day, called on the Canadian government to apply intense public pressure through the United Nations on Hizbullah - and the political leaders in Syria and Iran - to pull away from the Israeli border. He added: "In the longer term, the only way to combat the Hizbullah threat is to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and allow the Lebanese people to develop a true democracy. That's why Canada must pressure Syria to live up to Security Council resolutions calling for an end to its occupation."


4. RCPL launches a scholarship

RCPL has launched a $500 scholarship to help a graduate student propose practical solutions to reduce corruption in Lebanon. RCPL intends on funding more scholarships in the future in order to develop knowledge and potential capacity building contribution from Canada to Lebanon.
Please check our web site for future updates.

5. American Lebanese community pressures the UN on UNSCR 520

Last week, representatives of several American Lebanese Organizations, led by the World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU), Lebanese Information Center (LIC), and the American Maronite Union (AMU), met with the heads of the delegations of the United States, Mexico, The European Union, and Algerian Missions to the United Nations. The meetings focused on the restoration of a sovereign, politically independent, democratic Lebanon, and the end of human rights abuses currently taking place there. The representatives also submitted memorandums regarding these issues to the Ambassadors of both the Arab League and Saudi Arabian Mission.  

6. Tension at Southern Lebanese borders

Based on UN and media reports several incidents were reported in South Lebanon which risks to ignite a regional crisis. Both Israel and Hizbullah, an armed non-governmental group in Lebanon that is considered a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, kept the heat on in Lebanon with numerous incidents including:

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Oct. 27: Hizbullah mortar attacks on Israeli outposts in the disputed Shebaa farms followed by an Israeli aerial bombing response 

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Oct. 17: Hizbullah blocked a US diplomatic convoy at gun point 

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Oct. 8: Clashes between Israel and Hizbollah killed young Lebanese twins by a Katyusha rocket aimed at Israel 

We join our voice to Mr. Roed-Larsen who asked the Lebanese government to exert full control over the use of force from its territory. We also urge Canada should to push for UN resolutions aimed at demilitarizing Lebanon and resolving Shebaa farms problem.

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