NGOs denounce curfew for Syrians in Lebanon's Bourj Hammoud

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A Syrian man, with his wife and children, poses on a motorcycle nearby a refugee camp in the city of Ersal in Lebanon's Bekaa valley on March 28, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Joseph Eid)

Published Thursday, May 22, 2014

Authorities recently imposed an 8:00 pm curfew on Syrians in the eastern Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud, a move condemned as a “violation of the law” by Lebanese NGO Legal Agenda on Wednesday.

The curfew was set after an altercation took place on Saturday, in which one man was seriously injured by a gas canister. Five Kurdish-Syrians were later arrested in connection to the fight, according to LBC.

Lebanese residents of Bourj Hammoud staged sit-in took place on Sunday, accusing Syrians of being behind the dispute and calling for stricter security in the neighborhood.

A curfew was then set on Tuesday, forbidding Syrian nationals from being outdoors between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am in Bourj Hammoud.

In an article on Legal Agenda’s website, legal researcher Sara Wansa denounced the curfew, calling it a “violation of the law.”

“The decision was set by the municipality, and it is a decision that is a violation of the law, and is outside of the municipality’s jurisdiction. Decisions like these are taken by the Higher Military Council during ‘cases of state of emergency’ or regarding classified ‘military zones,’” Wansa wrote.

“This form of repression conflicts with international conventions that guarantee freedom of movement for all residents, regardless of their nationality, and disallows discrimination against or between them,” she added.

Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Nadim Houry also condemned the decision on Twitter, noting that Syrian presence in Bourj Hammoud has predated the Syrian conflict.

Bourj Hammoud is the latest Lebanese municipality to install a curfew for Syrians. Throughout 2013, numerous towns across the country sought to limit the freedom of movement of Syrian nationals after nightfall.

A recent study by the American University of Beirut revealed that more than 90 percent of Lebanese respondents said they supported restricting the movement, political freedoms, and work opportunities of Syrian refugees.

Furthermore, at least 10 percent of Lebanese nationals surveyed in various areas within Akkar, Wadi Khaled, and the Bekaa stated they “highly endorse” violence directed towards Syrian refugees, and even violence towards the Lebanese government.
More than one million Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, as the three-year conflict in neighboring Syria has strained the political and security situation in the small Mediterranean country.

(Al-Akhbar)

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