ICTJ Forum: Facing the Past in Lebanon



Photo: People gather near a damaged car a day after a fighting in Beirut, Lebanon, June 29, 2009. AP Photo/Bilal Hussein.

In this edition of the ICTJ Forum, we speak with Lynn Maalouf, one of the primary authors of a new report by ICTJ entitled Lebanon’s Legacy of Political Violence. The report compiles information on hundreds of incidents of serious crimes that took place from 1975 to 2008 in all parts of Lebanon.

In this conversation with ICTJ's Hannah Dunphy, Maalouf explains that the report is the first effort to gather existing reports of political violence, including incidents that could be classified as widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations. Other acts that were documented include massive bombardments of residential areas, systematic and widespread use of torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sieges of villages, and depriving civilian populations of food and water.


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"The idea is that incidents of political violence in Lebanon never stopped," says Maalouf. "Not since 1975, and not today. Especially today."

Maalouf also explains how youth in Lebanon are starting to ask why this history isn't widely acknowledged, and why despite the overwhelming number of civilians killed, injured, displaced or otherwise harmed by decades of violence, there remains a near-total lack of justice for victims.

"Today we do see these young people saying; this is wrong; we do have a right to know what happened," says Maalouf. "We do see young people being more active and more hopeful in their demands for a history curriculum, for instance, which still doesn’t exist in Lebanon."

For more background on the report and Lebanon's struggle to face its past, read our recent feature here or download the report here