Montreal, Canada - May 31, 2005

May 2005 - Vol. 21

RCPL May 2005 Newsletter includes the following items:

1.
Canada to send election observers to Lebanon
2. Urgent action to release the lebanese detainees from syrian jails
3. Bombs target religious sites in Lebanon
4.
General Michel Aoun returned to Beirut from exile in France
5. The Syrian withdrawal was mandated by Security Council resolution 1559



1. Canada to send election observers to Lebanon

On May 19, 2005, Canada announced it will send 20 observers to monitor Lebanon's parliamentary elections.

RCPL welcomes Canada's decision to send a team of observers to monitor Lebanon's parliamentary elections this summer. As RCPL made clear in our meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canada's support will contribute to ensuring that Lebanon's elections are free and fair. RCPL views this development as a positive sign of Canada's commitment to democracy in Lebanon.


2. Urgent action to release the lebanese detainees from syrian jails

RCPL hails the participation of community members and organizations in the workshop held by RCPL on May 12, 2005, entitled: « The Forgotten Lebanese: 30 Years in Syrian Prisons », aimed at raising awareness about the plight of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons. Please click here to sign the petition, launched by RCPL, Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) and Amnesty International, demanding that Syria releases the Lebanese prisoners in Syrian prisons.


3. Bombs target religious sites in Lebanon

On May 6: An explosion ravaged a shopping area and set off a fire near a christian religious radio station (Radio Charity) and a church in the port city of Jounieh north of Beirut. Earlier in the day, the radio station had aired live broadcasts of a sit-in by relatives of Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails. At least one person was killed and 16 were wounded.

RCPL condemns this new terrorist attack and hopes the perpetrators are brought to justice. RCPL recalls on the Lebanese government and security forces to take effective action to ensure the security of all citizens.


4. General Michel Aoun returned to Beirut from exile in France

On May 7, 2005, Former Prime Minister General Michel Aoun returned to Lebanon, ending his 15-year exile in France, less than two weeks after Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon.

RCPL warmly welcomes this positive development in the field of human rights. General Aoun has been the victim of accusation and exile for 15 years without trial. He was received by France as a political refugee following the military attack of the syrian army on the presidential Palace in Baabda in 1990. RCPL believes that exile and political accusations constitute serious violations of lebanese citizens rights. RCPL calls the lebanese government to respect its international commitments to respect human rights and release all prisoners held in Lebanese prisons for political reasons.


5. The Syrian withdrawal was mandated by Security Council resolution 1559

On May 22, 2005, A United Nations mission has verified that Syrian troops and security forces have fully withdrawn from Lebanon. However, the United Nations team said it was "unable to conclude with certainty" that all of Syria's intelligence operatives have left the country.

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