Adonis Diaries

Testimonials & Eye witness accounts of a civil war (Lebanon, 1975-1991)

Posted on: October 22, 2008

Testimonials & Eye witness accounts of a civil war (Lebanon, 1975-1991)

Note: Abridged translations from dailies, mostly from Al Balad

The issues of daily Al Balad, April 12, and 13, 2005

It was a Sunday on April 13, 1975.  A car drove by a church in Ain Rumany where the leader of the Phalange party “Al Kataeb” was attending a funeral.  The member Elias Abu Assi was shot to death.  Around noon, a bus carrying Palestinian women and children crossed the area and a fusillade killed 18 of the passengers. At the same time around Ras Dekwany in East Beirut people already were spreading the bad omen that the war has started. By night fall a few Palestinian factions were put on alert.  The civil war was to begin.

In the afternoon, Ain Rumany was deserted but the populace in Shyyah, the next neighborhood to Ain Rumany, were gathering and crowding the street of Asaad Al Asaad seeking information and getting to converse about what happened.

By sundown the streets emptied and then gun shots were heard throughout the night and most of the street lamps were shot at. The morning witnessed the cadaver of an unknown individual on a street.

The next day, people in Shyyah cooperated with the Fedayyins and promenaded them through the back alleys and a sort of forced extended holiday settled in throughout the summer. Individuals would come in and families would leave with all their belongings.

Throughout the civil war Shyyah was a demarcation line and no major infiltration or offensive attacks were substantially noticed but constant shelling demonstrated that this line should not be crossed.

The relationship between the fighting militias and the families were not intimate and this distancing created a sense of power in the militiamen that would grow and get entrenched in the Lebanese fabric. The crowded streets continued to give a sense of nonchalance and old-time social traditions with this feeling that death would strike when Allah wished.

One of the last to be killed in October 30, 1977 was Badih Kozma, the best known cadres in popular activities.  He was assassinated in the middle of the day and in a crowded street by the Syrian forces that have entered Shyyah.  Everybody knew the real perpetrators and a huge demonstration followed his coffin.

Anyone who visited Shyyah, 2 years after the first major rounds of the civil war, would be struck by this pale yellow color with red nuances dominating the landscape from the building, the faces of the people and the sand barriers.

A yellow cloud that hovered in the air and would not give hope to find any living person.  You could feel however that within these destroyed, decrepit and bullet riddled buildings, pale-faced people still inhabited them. The original families were still there because they didn’t have anywhere else to go but the government employees and middle class families had from long time vacated the area

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adonis49

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