A Lebanese girl is seen behind a national flag as she attends a protest against killings during recent clashes in central Beirut May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - LEBANON)
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to the protection of human rights, released a statement on Sunday calling on Lebanese politicians, gathered in Doha this week, to address the human rights abuses perpetrated throughout a week of fighting in the country precipitated by a Hizballah takeover of the capital, Beirut, and its attack on towns and villages in Mount Lebanon.
The group's statement, highlighted a number of human rights abuses investigated by the NGO:
Members of the opposition groups – Hezbollah, Amal, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) – used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs, often referred to as B7s) in densely populated areas of Beirut. These attacks killed and wounded numerous civilians. Amal Baydoun, 59, and her son Haytham Tabbarah, 35, died on May 8 while trying to flee their Ras al-Naba` neighborhood when opposition gunmen fired an RPG in the direction of their car. Tabbarah’s two brothers were injured later that day when opposition gunmen shot at their car while they were trying to join their family in the hospital.
Opposition gunmen also detained suspected members of pro-government groups. In most cases, opposition forces transferred those they detained to the Lebanese army a few hours later, but a number of individuals were held for days in incommunicado detention. In the town of Chouweifat, Hezbollah detained four individuals suspected of being members of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) for three days; in a subsequent television interview, those released indicated that they were treated well. However, two individuals detained in Beirut by opposition gunmen told Human Rights Watch that they were beaten and insulted: “I was detained for two hours in one of Amal’s offices in Beirut. We were approximately 18 in the room. I was beaten with the butt of a Kalashnikov. I saw others being beaten too.”
Supporters of the pro-government groups – the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party – also resorted to violence against civilians and offices associated with opposition groups in areas under their control in northern Lebanon, the Beka` and the Chouf. Many of these attacks violated international humanitarian law. Hezbollah reported that PSP fighters detained two of its followers and executed them. Human Rights Watch examined photos of the two Hezbollah members showing that at least one had been shot in the head at very close range while the other appears to have had part of the skin of his forearm removed. Videos posted online of the fighting in the northern town of Halba between armed men supporting the government and members of the opposition SSNP show wounded men, apparently belonging to the SSNP, lying on the ground being beaten and ill-treated by gunmen.
For more information, please contact:
In Beirut, Nadim Houry: + 961-3-639244
In Washington, DC, Joe Stork: +1-202-612-4327
Meanwhile, reports of abductions, tortures, and other abuses continue to emerge. Writing in the NYTimes, Robert Worth and Nada Bakri recount the story of Hussein al-Haj Obaid who:
For two and a half days ... lay on the floor of a darkened warehouse in west Beirut, blindfolded and terrified. Militiamen loyal to Hezbollah had kidnapped him at a checkpoint after killing his nephew right in front of him.Mustpaha links to the piece with quotes and more.