Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Testimonials of a civil war

Testimonials of a civil war: Support movement for General Michel Aoun

The issue of the daily Al Balab, May 9, 2005

This is the story of a girl who was 13 years old when the movement of General Aoun started after being appointed Prime Minister in interim.  She used to participate in the demonstrations in support of his liberation stand against the occupation of the Syrian forces, and joined her schoolmates visiting the Presidential Palace in Baabda. She also drove there accompanied by her aunt and grand dad.

The Dekwani area where she lived was under the control of the “Lebanese Forces”, which was at the time still allied with the Lebanese army. She once wrote a poem to General Michel Aoun and drew the Statue of Liberty replacing the territory of Lebanon where the torch stands.

Later, when the Lebanese army faced the trespasses of the “Lebanese Forces”, people were forced to taking refuge in basements.  The children were separated from adults who needed silence to listen to the radios.  The trapped citizens would go three days without food.  The main ingredient was lemon because it killed the appetite and boxes of Panadol for headaches.  The girl’s grand dad cooked on a blue alcohol flame which took forever for the cooked food to be ready.

General Aoun gave up the fight as the Syrian air force bombed the presidential Palace on October 13, 1990. The citizens heard the General voice on the radio telling them the situation so that ”we save and keep whatever is left in Lebanon”.  People wept and started burning the General’s cassettes and pictures for fear that the Syrian might indict them.

After October 13, the girl resumed her studies at the all girl school in Fanar where the Syrian troops installed one of their headquarters.  The girls would not go out to play, especially when rumors spread of mass graves in Beit Mery and Deir Kalaa.

The Syrian soldiers used to walk the playgrounds while the students kept to their classes and they celebrated the remembrance of the independence at Independence Day.  The students began throwing leaflets opposing the Syrian occupation from school buses windows when passing Syrian check points; the consequence was shutting all school buses windows during the whole trip home.  The supporters of the General had a code car honking and poster were plastered stating “The General will return” from exile.

Testimonials of a civil war: Fatema recalls events in 1988
Civil war in lebanon 1975-1991

The issue of daily Al Balad, May 4, 2005

Fatema Rida was nine years old when the Taef Agreement (a revised Constitution for Lebanon) put an end to the war, which was signed on March 28, 1990.  Fatema thought that her memory did not register anything from the war period, until the conflagration of the thousand kilo of dynamite detonated in the vicinity of the St. George hotel and killed former Prime Minister Hariri and twenty other people.

Fatema then started to recall events. In 1988, a shell fell in her kitchen injuring her and her brother.  In the hospital they cried hard but tried to sooth one another that they are not suffering.  Her mother relocated them from Zkak Blat in West Beirut to her grand father’s in South Lebanon.

Fatema’s mother worked in Beirut and visited her children every two Saturdays because the trip used to take 6 hours instead of the regular one hour-trip. Fatema also lost her best blond girl-doll because the girls in the new location kept emptying the stuffing from the burned area of the toy. A newly purchased Barbie doll never replaced her former doll love.

Fatema’s father was killed by a militia faction when she was nine months old and the leader of this militia is in power now. At twenty one, her uncle gave her a cassette of her father talking about the family and she sometimes used to laugh because she realized that he had trouble pronouncing the R.

She recently met Issam, a member of the militia that killed her father, and who was in charge of keeping the security at the door of her school Batriarkyeh.  When Issam was sitting in guard, the school could resume as usual. When Issam was standing then the school prepared to close immediately, and students went home under a rain of bullets.

Testimonials of a civil war

The issue of daily Al Balad, May 1, 2005

Hajj Mahmoud Kaleet is 71 years old from Bent Jbile in the South.  He has 10 children. Mahmoud had relocated to Nabaa in East Beirut before 1975 because of the Israeli retaliations against the Palestinian resistance in the Southern borders sent the Lebanese fleeing toward Beirut.

When the Phalangist militias devastated Nabaa and destroyed his house and all his belonging, he headed toward Soufar in the Aley disctrict.  He then worked as a taxi driver in Syria for a while and settled in Dahieh-Bear Abed (currently a stronghold of Hezbollah).

An Israeli shell destroyed his house in April 1982 and killed two of his children: a son and a daughters.  A second daughter suffered permanent disfiguration.  The family relocated again in Aley until Beshir Gemmayel was elected President of the Republic with Israel backing.

The fifth relocation took the family back to Ghazieh and then to Bear Abed.   Hajj Mahmoud never took arm or any of his children: they were busy surviving and staying away from any kind of militias.  He nevertheless participated in Mosques sit-in against the attempted peace treaty with Israel.

Once, his car was hit by shrapnel during his trip to Hay Selum and thus he fled to Burj Barajneh before reaching his home.

Testimonials of a civil war: The story of a Communist Action member

The issue of daily Al Balad, April 30, 2005

Mahmoud Wehbe is from south Lebanon and was a member of the Organization of the Communist Action, a splinter of the Communist Trotsky Party. One of his militia officers asked him whether military training in the army involved some artillery duties, especially the use of Hawn 82 caliber.  Mahmoud replied that his military knowledge did not go beyond generalities.

Thus, Mahmoud was attached to an artillery unit in Aley as an artillery assistant. It turned out that the artillery man was a Syrian Communist with no artillery training whatsoever, with no maps, no compass and no pointer man to guide targeting. Even after three trials, the shells fell one kilometer from target.

Many civilians were killed because of this targeting inefficiency. Mahmoud was ordered to join a local party headquarter as a cook.  He chastised the leaders who smoked Havana cigars, ate varied course meals, and lived the high life while the fighting comrades barely had one dry sandwich a day in the trenches.

The leaders temporized with him claiming that this local headquarter is a place to meet with other parties’ heads and dignitaries. Fighters were utterly bored and tended to shoot all day long for no reason or specific targets.

When Mahmoud returned to his home town for a short leave, he was welcomed as a hero.  The real fighting he engaged in was in the hills of Zaarour in the Metn region of Mount Lebanon against Lebanese army units commanded by General Barakat.

Mahmoud soon realized that they were fighting against the Syrian forces as well and had to retreat.  It was down hill to this Marxist militia from then on and widespread depression and defeatism set on.

By this time, the Shiaa Amal militia was gaining territory in the South, the Bekaa and Beirut.  The Christian “Lebanese Forces” were consolidating their hold on the “Christian” area conquered.

Testimonials of a civil war: ” Security-Political” ; civil war in Lebanon 1975-1991

The issue of daily Al Balad, April 28, 2005

An anonymous Lebanese man wrote a book of his recollections of the early Palestinian Resistance activities in Lebanon.  This resistance from Lebanon to Israel occupation of lands started in 1969 when this man was still in secondary school.  The book is titled:” Security-Political”.  The man was first contacted by the responsible of the “Fateh” student organization in his school.

The job was to get information, and better yet, to infiltrate an organization calling itself the “Arab Fedayyins” with headquarter close to where he lived in Mazraa Avenue in Beirut.  One of his school mates introduced him to the leader of this new organization by the name Ahmed Rifaat.

Ahmed asked him to collect contributions to the “Arab Fedayyins”organization. The Fateh student leader bought the entire contribution book for LL 100 (a large sum at the time) so that he could prove to Ahmed that he is a diligent member of the organization.

Then Ahmed disappeared to reemerge in 1980 as a security chief to Yasser Arafat. In the mean time, the anonymous author had discovered that Ahmed was, at a previous period, a lieutenant in the Palestinian Brigade located in Iraq and thus, was an Iraqi Baath party informer.

Another member of this non existent “Arab Fedayyins” was Abi Abdullah, who turned out to be a captain in the Palestinian Brigade located in Syria.

Thus, the Syrian regime sent a spy to infiltrate the Iraqi regime organization.  Later on, this Abi Abdullah was eliminated by the Fateh security forces or Unit 17 (as the Syrian regime tried to totally control Fateh), and the posters claimed that he died as a martyr for the Palestinian cause.

Testimonials of a civil war: “Free Tigers” militia?

From The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 27, 2005 

John Eid was twenty years old when the civil war started.  He was and still is a member of the political party of late President Camille Chamoun because his father, a soldier in the Lebanese army, was also a member.

John vacated with his family from Ain Rumany, a Christian Beirut suburb, and joined the “Free Tigers” militia or the military wing of this party.

John claims that his militia did not have any military training or arms when the war started and that he was obeying orders from his superiors during the war.

He joined 20 of the members in a training camp and still believes that the war was not confessional but national against the Palestinians who wanted to rule Lebanon.

John believes that there is no Lebanon without the presence of its Christian citizens.

The “Free Tigers” participated heavily with the Syrian forces to encircle, reduce to famine, and invade a Palestinian camp in Tell Al Zaatar in East Beirut.

This militia slaughtered thousands of civilian Palestinians after the camp fell.

Later, the “Free Tigers” militia capitulated to the Phalanges Party and formed the Maronite Christian “Lebanese Forces” and he remained an integral part of this force during most of the war.

In 1988, John joined the forces of General Michel Aoun when the Lebanese army engaged the Syrian forces and the “Lebanese Forces” of Samir Geajaa a few months later.

Once, John entered a decrepit building in fire, and the stairwell was destroyed to the upper floors in order that everyone up there would perish in the fire, famine, or throwing themselves down to their death.

He entered rooms and found entire families, kids, mothers and elder people, individually killed sitting around tables for dinner.

When coming down the stairs he heard screams of women and little babies coming from the basement; they would not open the door for him fearing that the militia would slaughter them anyway.

John had a Christian friend who was shot at a road block by another Christian militia fighter, simply because his name was not to his liking.

John witnessed Christian militias destroying the insides of churches, ruining the tabernacles and defaming the pictures of the Virgin Mary and all the other Saints.

Testimonials of a civil war: Communist party member 

The issue of daily Al Balad, April 26, 2005

Samir Al Ocda was barely 12 years old when the civil war started.  His father was a dedicated Communist party member and hided a Kalashnikov in his house located in Ras Nabaa.

Samir’s father was strict in never allowing any one in the family to touch the Kalashnikov, or missing a school day for demonstrating, or to hanging out in centers where political meetings were taking place.

Once, as Samir was 10 years old, his father and a few of his comrades parked the jeep in the neighborhood.  His father lifted the kid Samir and placed him behind the Doshka machine gun mounted on the jeep. That was the first great impression for power and glory.

Samir political awareness began in 1980 when he was in middle school:  He read the daily newspaper “Al Watan” (the nation) distributed at the school door.  He badly desired to wear the green vest called “field” that was donned by the communist fighters.

When the bombing intensified, he stood at the school door and harangued the students not to enter and to join the demonstrations.  The school  principal remonstrated them and they replied by throwing rocks at him.

In Ras Nabaa stood a house called “Nadi Ruwad” (the patrons club) which hosted Russian delegates and various sports activities. In this house, Samir got indoctrinated and started reading ideological books and participating in discussions.

In 1981, Samir was already 15 years old and joined a training camp for the Communist in Kfar Matta under the direction of a comrade called “Stalin”. He had told his family that he was going out on a scout camp.

The taller the comrade the closer to the front row was the regulation and thus, short Samir was always standing in the back wearing oversized Cuban military garments.

Abu Anis, the war code name for the head of the Communist Party George Hawi, sent immediately these fresh graduating recruits to manning the barricades in St. Theresa, in the Dahia neighborhood in order to face-off the offensives of the “Amal” militias also called the disinherited Shiaas.

Samir was restless from then on and barely visited his family.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and entered Beirut.

Samir helped his comrades recover the military vehicles and hardware buried in the “Sport City” compound and distributed the vehicles to various corners in West Beirut, and mainly around the “Cola” neighborhood.

By dawn, the inhabitants got the fright seeing that amount of military vehicles and chars and started vacating to more peaceful areas in coincidence with the admonishments of the Israeli flyers for the people to empty the surroundings and so Samir’s folks did too.

Samir collected 250 house keys that the tenants left with him for safe keep.

While guarding barricades, Samir used to finger his guitar and a photo was published of him with the legend stating “The break time of a fighter at “Mat-haf” (National Museum area)”, followed by the slogans “Down with guns; Long life to guitars!”

His last battle was at “Mathaf” where he faced the Israeli soldiers and managed to earn the scare of his life before successfully retreating.

Samir still believes that he fought for a just cause, but the circumstances and new facts are leaving him to wonder whether this civil war was worth the damage and death.

Since the Taef agreement in 1990, which stopped the war, and the parliament proclaiming that “All has been forgiven and all involved have been pardoned”, Samir has experienced deep depression periods and witnessed a half-peace and lack of opportunities to earn a living.

An eye witness confessed to seeing a bunch of kids playing soccer on a sandy field to discover that the ball was indeed a human skull.

Rami, now 33 years old, used to gather insects in bundles and burn them just to hear the crackling sounds in the fire.




June 2020

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