We will not be silenced: the STL is illegitimate

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Lebanon has yet to try those who killed thousands of civilians during the Lebanese civil war. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Friday, April 25, 2014

What happened was expected, but it is not because of our ability to predict the actions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) or because we have undercover agents that have penetrated it. What was warned about nine years ago continues to occur, and with growing intensity.

It is only logical for the STL's arbitrary measures to grow into direct repression of those who inquire about its activities. Years of constant stalling were not enough. Millions of dollars were spent, half of which came from the pockets of Lebanese citizens who suffer from poverty and destitution. Today, the STL decided it wants to expand its power and force us to remain silent about the atrocities committed.

The court president's announcement of the indictment of Al-Akhbar and New TV yesterday was not coincidental. Those who support the court say the aim was to uncover the truth behind the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and punish its perpetrators. But the decision was published 24 hours after the same political team, in Lebanon and abroad, tried to exonerate Samir Geagea, the killer of former Prime Minister Rachid Karami, by choosing him as president of Lebanon.

The STL's accusations and summons are also not coincidental. They come as we face accusations by the same Lebanese authorities who support the tribunal, from the president, to the justice minister, to the assassin of the prime minister of Lebanon, to the son of the prime minister for whom the court was set up. They have been going after Al-Akhbar for many years, attempting to drown it in litigation and intimidation campaigns in the advertising market, with the collusion of polling agencies. All their intentions were aimed at stopping Al-Akhbar from growing, and it is exactly what their puppet masters the Saudis have done by blocking Al-Akhbar's website.

It is not by chance that this occurred simultaneously with the representative of the Israeli enemy to the tripartite committee (the Lebanese army, UNIFIL, and Israel) announcing that his government filed a complaint at the UN Security Council against Lebanon for violating Resolution 1701. It was based on "Hezbollah's man and journalist Ibrahim al-Amin," publishing articles confirming the violation. This was preceded by Israel's delegate to the UN presenting documents to the Security Council accusing Lebanon of violating the resolution, based on Al-Akhbar, which she accuses of being a Hezbollah "organ."

It is not by accident the decision was announced as the president and the justice minister are trying to sidestep the Court of Publications and refer Al-Akhbar to a criminal court, with the intention of handing down jail sentences.

Now the STL says it wants to replace the flailing Lebanese judiciary with the highest international standards. It then calls for jailing journalists for a crime that Lebanon no longer recognizes, as is the case with most respectable countries.

Even more, this court is not merely intimidating journalists. Today it wants to intimidate the whole commercial sector behind the media industry. Taking legal action against juridical persons – a precedent in international courts – is another indication of an attempt by decision-makers and those who support them politically and legally to undermine commercial establishments like New TV S.A.L. and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L.. The STL is trying to intimidate establishments, and their current and future owners and shareholders. This arbitrariness might even lead the STL to criminalize all commercial and legal relations with the two companies.

The direct functional aim of the decision is to allow the STL to practice the worst kind of clamp down against the media in preparation for issuing arbitrary rulings. By taking this step, the political and legal team behind the tribunal's establishment and financing is driven by the extreme weakness of the court's work on the original case. Various facts were revealed; some were made public, some leaked, and others are still unpublished. They point to the general inadequacy of the indictment. The evidence they speak of is still based on technicalities and could be overturned, as was shown by telecommunications experts. It is also based on witnesses who remain hidden under the pretext of their protection. However, in the previous stages of the investigation, they had shown that they were pushed, for various reasons, to give testimonies closer to tales, hearsay, and exegesis.

It is clear, as it is to all legal experts, that the accusations levelled against us are an integral part of the political and legal prosecution team's plan to hang a dark shroud over the whole issue. Lebanese citizens and the families of the victims, whether plaintiffs, defendants, or the audience, will not be informed of the details of STL's work. It will all be concealed in the name of secrecy and the suppression happens in the name of violating the rules of confidentiality.

We have three problems with the court.

First, it is rejected in principle and in its selectivity. The STL looks similar to the regime we suffer under, the system of prestige, where justice is a privilege for the powerful, while thousands are left to suffer from injustice. With all due respect to all the victims, it is not acceptable to hold a court for the powerful, providing it with all that is needed, while justice in Lebanon remains neglected and while victims remain deprived of any justice. The world needs to remind Lebanon of the seriousness of crimes against humanity and war crimes, not just the crimes committed against some influential figures.

Second, it is rejected in its structure and the way it functions. The STL appropriated Lebanese citizens' personal data, without any proportionality between the demands of the investigation and the desired outcome. It now wants to appropriate press freedoms, initiating its indictment by attacking a newspaper and a television station, who probably care the most about the affairs of citizens and other people in Lebanon. In this sense, it appears the court wants to expand and extend its tentacles into the lives of the Lebanese.

Third, it is rejected for attempting to stifle any voice criticizing or reporting on its work. We know that some voices in Lebanon played down the politicization factors, claiming the Tribunal will be transparent. However, it began its work by attacking the press, sending a message that would undoubtedly create media taboos and self-censorship on anything related to the STL. It is enough to point out to citizens that this is the first time a juridical person is accused in an international court. Is there anything in the Tribunal or in the actions of Al-Akhbar and al-Jadeed, which warrants a precedent in international law going against all acts of jurisprudence and judicial systems?

Based on the aforementioned, our defense in the STL will be founded on challenging its legitimacy, in order to safeguard our understanding of justice and liberty.

Last but not least, we, in Al-Akhbar, are working on the legal aspect of the case and are in contact with those concerned with the issue. We will take a position related to the whole farce and hope for a practical stance from our colleagues, in Lebanon and abroad, and the mobilization of the Lebanese authorities to protect our individual rights and freedoms.

However, it is important to clarify one simple issue to avoid any confusion in the minds of those who participated in this crime and stood by it. Al-Akhbar published its first issue the day Lebanon and its resistance announced their victory in the devastating war launched by Israel in 2006. We had announced that we have been and will continue to be part and parcel of the resistance movement against all occupiers and every colonialism. We will keep standing by the rights of individuals to protect their humanity and prevent repression and tyranny. We always knew that we would pay a price for our positions.

Thus, we repeat that we are part of a resistance, which gives all the blood and lives needed for our unrestricted freedom. Being part of the resistance means we are fighting for justice. We will not be terrorized by indictments or subpoenas, whether in Lebanon or elsewhere. We will remain at the forefront of a confrontation with all types of arbitrary decisions, tyranny, and murder, be it by an occupier, biased authority, corrupt rule, or partial courts. These attempts will not scare us and all we can say to those fools at this moment is that our voices will haunt you, wherever you are. You will not silence us, neither with your courts nor through your crimes.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

What about if those crimes are committed by your paymasters Hezbollah and Syria via Iran. This crime was not just agains a political figure. There were many others killed in this murder and you attempted to obstruct justice for the "innocent" victims as well as your political enemy. You can always call out the "resistance card" to cover your crimes. Attack the legitimacy of the court because the is the only defense you have.

What about if those crimes are committed by your paymasters Hezbollah and Syria via Iran. This crime was not just agains a political figure you fool. There were many others killed in this murder and you attempted to obstruct justice for the "innocent" victims as well as your political enemy. You can always call out the "resistance card" to cover your crimes. Attack the legitimacy of the court because the is the only defense you have.

Mr Al-Amin,
What if you were a protected witness and a paper published your name. Simple, no?

we condemn such acts made by pro Saudi lobby

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