Through our solidarity, we will confront the STL

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Al-Akhbar Management

(Photo: Al-Akhbar)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Monday, April 28, 2014

None of us need an explanation about the nature of the political and media divide on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The split is certainly not professional and highly politicized. The split began with the decision to establish the tribunal and is closely linked to its process and actions. This division appears clearly in the STL's proceedings and its decision to indict Al-Akhbar and Al-Jadeed for contempt of the court.

Conscious of the risks entailed in the decision, journalists met today through an initiative by our veteran teacher [Assafir's editor in chief] Talal Salman, who has faced the injustice of press freedom violations with his blood, sweat, and patience, and he has even faced assassination attempts and persecution. The meeting was held in solidarity with Al-Akhbar and Al-Jadeed and aimed at putting an end to attempts to silence the media. We will be taking steps to contain the aggression on our rights and prevent its repetition.

However, each step has major obstacles. They include the existing divide in both the media and political communities, which does not allow the possibility of expressing professional solidarity regarding freedoms. They also include the idle role of the authorities, whose position was expressed clearly by Minister of Information Ramzi Jreij’s stance. He consciously and deliberately was nonchalant about the issue and considered it a purely procedural matter.

Can the media community agree on a practical outcome?

This is definitely possible. The STL is not set in stone. Local and international authorities supporting the court are powerful, but their capabilities are not unstoppable. Correcting the errors and putting the tribunal on the right track requires a lot of patience and perseverance. However, prior to this work, consensus, and preventing unilateralism, transgressions, and tyranny is needed.

What can we do?

First: Demand a decision or legislation prohibiting the STL from prosecuting journalists for crimes related to publication, speech, or comment, restoring the matter to its Lebanese legal framework. This is justified by the fact that the Court of Publications, despite its arbitrary decisions, does exist and could exercise its power if necessary.

Second: Demand a decision or legislation requiring the United Nations to guarantee the STL's respect of press freedoms and ensure the necessary amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence in the court, to prevent any type of prosecution based on publication or speech.

Third: Announce a state of emergency in the journalist unions to prepare for the very first all-inclusive conference for the media community in Lebanon. It would re-examine the union and prepare a memorandum of cooperation with the judiciary in Lebanon exclusively, to ensure the respect of the law and safeguarding press freedoms.

Fourth: All media outlets would have the choice of initiating practical steps to inform the STL, in addition to Lebanese authorities, that attacking media establishments or journalists will put them in a confrontation with the whole media community.

However, the most important thing is not to merely agree on the steps, but to admit in advance that this agreement does not intend to impose one editorial policy on all outlets and journalists. All it would do is require the media to abide by the mechanisms of professional, legal, and moral solidarity and mutual support. Difference and diversity of opinion, and even opposing views on matters must continue to be respected.

In this context, Al-Akhbar would like to indicate that we insist on a unified union strategy and on obliging the state to respect all of our rights and guarantee that they will not be violated by any other authority around the world. This is what we intend to do in order to protect our right to go after those who are sabotaging the country and its future and to safeguard the rights of others to criticize us and explain how we might also threaten their freedom.

We say this beforehand, so no one thinks we are begging for freedom in return for staying silent about the tribunal’s mistakes. We say to our friends and foes alike that we will be in the heart of the battle against the falsification of history and attempts by the unjust world to impose its own rules in the name of international justice and legitimacy.

We are saying this because we have the documents and data that demonstrate that the STL is about to embark on an error-ridden work program, which does not merely aim to undermine honorable Resistance fighters, but would also push the country towards harsh confrontations. We will not be silent about false witnesses. We promise the court's supporters, particularly political forces and security agencies, that we will be waiting for them after each decision and on every corner. We will publish what we deem necessary to reveal the truth to the general public.

The solidarity meeting today means a lot to us. It is a huge milestone and a positive signal that the media community in Lebanon is truly alive. We see this as a launch pad for a new era, where we would no longer need solidarity and would no longer be victims of tyranny.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

The monsters are the journalists at Al-Akhbar and Al-Jadeed who deliberately leaked the names and details of potential witnesses in a murder trial in an attempt to obstruct justice and intimidate witnesses to protect the perpetrators of this crime. What truth did they reveal when exposing the potential witnesses? This in not about resistance. It is about cold blooded murder. What "falsification of history" are you talking about Mr. Amin? You aim to protect your paymasters in Hezbollah and that is an injustice to the victims of this horrible crime agains the people of Lebanon. YourResistance rhetoric once again falls flat.

Hope you can get these monsters off your case Mr Al-Amin. You are doing a great job speaking up against injustices in the ME. Really great work and very courageous.

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