« La Syrie
est au Liban parce qu’il faut maintenir la paix ».
This was the answer
of the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Paul Martin, to a journalist
question about the recent assassination of the Lebanese ex-Prime
Minister, Mr. Rafic Hariri.
This statement is not only inaccurate, but also out of sync with the
position of the United Nations and the international community at large.
In addition, it marginalizes the opinion expressed by hundreds of
thousands of Lebanese citizens who recently marched to express their
opposition to the Syrian occupation for Lebanon.
It is worthy to remind the Canadian public opinion, as well as our Prime
Minister, that Syria’s presence in Lebanon is not condoned by any
official mandate, neither from the United Nations nor from the Lebanese
government. The only term that fits the description of Syrian presence
in Lebanon is simply “occupation” of a sovereign country.
In September 2004, the UN Security council issued ‘resolution 1559’,
calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the
disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non Lebanese militias.
The same resolution also calls for a free electoral process in Lebanon
without any foreign interference.
To date, the Canadian government did not express any clear and direct
support for the above resolution. To make matters worse, Foreign Affairs
Minister, Mr. Pierre Pettigrew, avoided meeting with figures of the
opposition during his trip to Lebanon whereas the UN Special Coordinator
for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, did consult
with them this month. Moreover, many Lebanese citizens are still
illegally detained in Syrian prisons under inhumane conditions, all
cases of which the Foreign Affairs Canada are fully aware of. Letters
from RCPL addressed to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs
Minister Pettigrew to that effect remain unanswered.
RCPL deplores the Prime Minister’s statement. The statement can be
interpreted as a support from Canada to the occupation of Lebanon, which
contradicts all values we Canadians stand for, mainly the respect of
human rights and the promotion of democracy in the world.
RCPL requests from the Prime Minister Paul Martin to:
Clearly retract his
ill-informed statement which deeply offends the Canadian-Lebanese
community. Return to violence in Lebanon should neither be tolerated
nor encouraged by our Canadian government.
Issue a formal and
official statement supporting the request of the United Nations
Security Council from the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Anan, to
urgently submit a report about “ the circumstances, causes, and
consequences” of the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime
Minister, Mr. Rafic Hariri.
official statement clarifying Canada’s position in regards to UN
Security Council resolution 1559.