Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ain Rumany

Testimonials of a civil war: The case of Carmen Meshleb Chahine 

Note: civil war in Lebanon 1975-1991

The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 16, 2005

Carmen Meshleb Chahine is 41 of age, married, and her daughter is 21 years old now. She lived in Ain Rumany during the civil war and used to wake up at the sound of gun fire and artillery. Her husband, daughter, and she used to hurry to the shelter in the next door building when the haphazard shelling started.

Rich, poor, the chatty and silent people, the hardy men and the cowered used to meet at these moments. Carmen used to imagine the impossible ways to disinfect the food for her daughter, and let her sleep quietly amid the screams, sickness and fumes.

Carmen believes that mothers were the real fighters during this war, the most solid and resilient fighters of all regardless of religious sects.  Mothers were fighting death to conserve their families.  The happiest instances for the mothers were when they discovered that their families were intact after a terrible explosion in the vicinities.

In these bad times, there were no vacations for professionals earning decently their living. In order to survive, people sold drugs, arms, stolen goods and even rotten meat that were contaminated by radiation. One day, Carmen’s daughter arrived home from school and told her that a girl friend of her fell asleep in the court yard and red dirt covered her cloth.  She asked her mother from where did the red dirt came from.  She did not realize that the shell that fell on the school killed her friend.

It was common for students in public schools to wrap up two school years in one and no student failed his exams:  it was admitted as inconceivable that some students from another confessional affiliation proved to be below standards.

One day, Carmen’s husband went to purchase bread and a bomb struck the crowded lines of citizens, lined up in front of a bakery. Carmen hurried to the place and mingled with the wounded, and amid the dislocated members of some unfortunate citizens, searching for her husband.  He was bleeding but alive this time around.

Carmen still hear a few old timers of the war, between 35 and 50 years of age, bemoaning the good days of the war because they cannot find jobs that generate quick riches; they try their old swindling tricks on the innocents because these tricks are the only profession they learned during the war.

Testimonials of Lebanon civil war 1975-1991: What happened in Ashrafieh (Lebanon)? 

The issues of daily Al Balad, April 14 and 15, 2005

Ashrafieh is on the hilly part of East Beirut, surrounded by highways on all sides, and cut by a major artery that divides it into two main regions.

This district of Beirut was originally inhabited by Christian Oriental Orthodox, and slowly middle class Christian Maronite families moved in and constituted the majority before the civil war.  Ashrafieh is famous for its labyrinths of narrow streets, of mainly one directional ways, and tall buildings that overlook most of Beirut.

This region was crowded with gang members exhibiting machismo trends.  The gang members packed places of flippers and pool games. Mafia-type groups, enjoying the backing of the Lebanese internal intelligence agencies called the “Second Bureau”, were setting the rules in the streets. They rode motorcycles and red American convertibles and wore white suits and mafia hats.

Western young girls, picked from bordellos in El Zeitouny area, were exhibited in the convertible cars of these Mafiosos. The militias of the Christian “Lebanese Forces” would later displace these gangs and transfer them to the demarcation lines going as far as Ain Rumany and Furn Chebak.

Many families suffered irreversible psychological injuries because no specialized centers existed for cases that could be rehabilitated.

Many feel lucky to be alive and thus consider that anything less than death must be a superficial damage not worth confessing about.  The mother of Hani stated that her child could not sleep without pills and kept trembling in her arms for long time since the end of the war.

Samira, now 45 years of age, lost her parents and never felt the urge to return to her home. Mohamad, of 40 years now, lost his eldest son and goes into fits whenever he hears a loud noise.

In his book “Streets war”, Charles Chehwan describes an event of two football (soccer) players finishing a tough game under pouring rain and then screeching their car on the highway toward the war front and having a quick fuck with a girl before reaching destination.

There was a group of fighters who shaved their heads and wore priest cloth who joined the Phalanges Party.

A guy named Zorro drove a black Mercedes convertible and carried a silver shining revolver. Another guy named Kosov was a fan of Che Guevara.  A gangster formed the “Death squad” which located in an old house by a major school and hired an American Kong Fu trainer. This gangster became filthy rich and would usually drive, forwarded by a band of motorcyclists.  A famous soccer player got ever more famous in battles and amassed riches.

A renowned 100 m sprinter turned into an ugly killer and forced tribute on his neighborhood.

Those who tortured prisoners were mostly handymen, ironworkers, wood craftsmen and butchers.

One circus professional committed atrocities in Karantina, a very poor neighborhood adjacent to the Phalange Party main headquarter, while he exhibited utmost kindness, politeness and modesty in his social surrounding.  Many students wore pistols dangling from large belts, long leather overcoats and cowboy boots.

Girls started to accompany their boyfriends to the war fronts. University graduates, especially engineers, were given the task of manning canons and thus, the Christian Maronites raised the slogan of “Quality versus quantity”. It was common to wear a large wooden cross, let the hair grow tall and have long beard.

Leftists had to leave Ashrafieh and move to West Beirut.

In this confessional war, the Christian militias made St. Charbel and Saint Mary appear in different places, simultaneously,  and on many occasions. Obviously the Palestinian was made the nemesis and the devil; he was the unfaithful, the dirty, the one who sold his homeland and honor.

During this war no verbal or written culture chanted or honored the martyrs in the Christian cantons as was very common in West Beirut.

All schools were transformed into barracks for training fighters and old houses for partying and having good time.

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




June 2023

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