Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Testimonials of civil war

Testimonials of a civil war:

The case of Zeinab Shaaban Naanuh . Posted in 2008

Note: civil war in Lebanon (1975-1991)

The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 17, 2005

Zinab Sheaban Naanuh is from the Shia Muslim sect and in her fifty now.  Zinab had to relocate 7 times with her four children, without the assistance of her husband.

When she was living in Ras Dekwani in East Beirut, close to the Palestinian refugees’ camp of Tel Zaatar.

Water was the priciest commodity during the war.

People had to walk far to the only well available because all water lines were destroyed or cut off.

In every sortie for fetching water, 3 out of 10 volunteers died during the trip to the well. 

Then the Christian militias polluted the well by dumping dead bodies.

Zinab new born child almost died of dehydration and she had to leave all her children and tempt death to the well.

Her husband Abu Nasser sold cigarettes, but they lived the good life before the war. Her husband had to travel to Russia for a stomach surgery and Zinab did not see him for the duration of the war.

She remembers the Black Saturday massacre as the Christian militias slaughtered all of Beirut port workers using machetes, daggers, and bullets, while her husband was isolated in West Beirut for two weeks.

One day, a butcher sold her half of a whole mutton for two cigarettes.  Zinab never patronized any shelter for the duration of the war because of the serious diseases contracted in these infected places and opted instead to taking her chances.

Zinab twice gave birth during heavy shelling while having to cater for her children all alone.

Once, a rocket entered her living room but did not explode. After cleaning the house she carried the rocket outside the building where expert people detonated it and the Captain admonished her for this foolishness.

After the fall of Tal Zaatar, Zinab experienced her worst nightmares during her exit from Dekwani to West Beirut.   The Christian militias exterminated the Palestinian males and left only one male to each mother and carried away the rest to their death.

One method the militia used to carry out this mass killing plan was to deliver sleeping pills under the guise of aspirin to the refugees and to retrieve the males sentenced to death while people were sleeping.

A taxi driver charged Zinab $100 to take her out of this mad place.

Zinab was an eyewitness to the impalements of people: two jeeps would attach the limbs of a person then drive away in different directions.

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




February 2023

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