Montreal, Canada - March 31, 2004

March 2004 - Vol. 8

RCPL March 2004 Newsletter includes the following items:

1.
Government cracks down on student demonstrations 
2.
Human rights defenders and journalists harassed in Lebanon
3. Beirut quality of life one of the lowest in the world

1. Government cracks down on student demonstrations

On repeated occassions throughout March, authorities violently cracked down on demonstrations by university students. These demonstrations were peaceful. Authorities used excessive force, resulting in over 18 injured students. The students we demonstrating against rampant corruption and the Syrian occupation. RCPL urges the Canadian government to publicly express their concerns in regards to violent oppressions of peaceful demonstrations, which is an essential element in human rights and democratic principles.


2. Human rights defenders and journalists harassed in Lebanon

Recent media and other credible sources have reported a fierce attack from the Lebanese judiciary and governmental figures against human rights defenders and journalists who dare raising human rights issues in Lebanon.

   -    RCPL learned that Dr. Muhammed El Mugrabi, a well known human rights activist, has been summoned for interrogation due to his recent testimony about the human rights situation and the independence of the judiciary before a EU committee. 
   -    SOLIDE, a Lebanese non-governmental organization, was fiercely attacked by the Lebanese Minister Karim Bakradony. This comes after SOLIDE issued a letter demanding the release of hundreds of Lebanese detainees in Syria prisons. 
   -    The military court in Lebanon started a new proceeding against Mr. Pierre Atallah, a well known journalist in the daily newspaper of Al-Nahar. These proceedings came after the journalist published an article demanding the release of hundreds of Lebanese detainees from Syrian prisons.

RCPL urges the Canadian authorities to condemn such actions and start immediate discussions with their Lebanese authorities to remedy for these violations in agreement with the international standards of human rights and democratic values.


3. Beirut quality of life one of the lowest in the world

Beirut has been ranked 147 out of 215 cities across the world. This survey is conducted annually to help multinational companies assess international hardship allowances for their expatriate workers. The survey, conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, placed Beirut as the 12th most desirable city for living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, following Dubai, Limassol, Abu Dhabi, Tunis, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Casablanca, Manama, Jerusalem, Amman and Kuwait City. Beirut ranked ahead of Riyadh, Jeddah, Damascus and Tehran, among others. 

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