Saturday, 8 September 2007

Students 1971-72

I discovered a Merip report on the 1972 student movement of Lebanon in the vaults of the British Library. The piece by Samih Farsoun is a concise explanation by one of the leading lights of the Arab left on the movement for change.

I have a few disagreements with aspects of his analysis, especially on the question of the "comprador bourgeoisie" and "feudal class". But notwithstanding these differences, I felt it is a valuable insight into the period.

I include all the original images.

I remember the riots and demonstrations as a young lad— I was in an English school in south Beirut at the time.

The AUB recently reprinted a diary of the student sit-in.

Both pieces are available in full at Shemali .

Friday, 7 September 2007

Qana 2006

An aerial photo released by the Israeli army to justify their attack on Qana shows a rocket launch site in a field outside the village (bottom left).

The Israelis claim that the rockets were being fired from near the house where civilians were sheltering.

Yet the roads that can been seen in the Google map (above), marked (I), are 800 metres to the south of the house targetted by the missile, marked as (J).

Qana was the scene of a previous massacre during Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996. Over 100 civilians were killed as they sought shelter in the UN base, marked as (G).

Other launch sites identified in the aerial evidence are in the fields to the south of the village.


The New York based Human Rights Watch has published a new report that accuses Israel of the "indiscriminate airstrikes" agaisnt Lebanese civilians. The rights group found no evidence of Hezbollah’s shielding— as Israel claims— behind civilians.

To quote HRW report:
"In the vast majority of cases documented in this report, Israeli air strikes hit near or on civilian objects, killing numerous civilians in their homes or vehicles. While there were instances in which civilian deaths were “collateral damage” from legitimate attacks on military targets, during the vast majority of the deadly air strikes we investigated, we found no evidence of Hezbollah military presence, weaponry or any other military objective that would have justified the strike.

"Human Rights Watch visits to the graveyards in the villages found that the victims of these strikes were buried as civilians, and not honored as “fighters” or “martyrs” by Hezbollah or other militant groups, despite the pride that Hezbollah takes in these labels. Women and children account for a large majority of the victims of Israeli air strikes that we documented.

"Out of the 499 Lebanese civilian casualties of whom Human Rights Watch was able to confirm the age and gender, 302 were women or children.

"Throughout the conflict, Israeli warplanes targeted civilian vehicles on roads and homes, apparently assuming them to be Hezbollah military movements.

"Among the deadly attacks on civilians trying to flee the conflict are the killing of 23 civilians, including 14 children and seven women, fleeing from Marwahin on July 15; the killing of six and wounding of eight civilians fleeing from `Aitaroun on July 19; the killing of three and wounding of 14 civilians fleeing from al-Tiri on July 23; the killing of 2 and wounding of four civilians fleeing from Mansouri on July 23; the wounding of nine civilians fleeing from Mansouri on July 23; the wounding of six ambulance drivers and three passengers in Qana on July 23; the killing of one civilian on a motorcycle on his way to buy food and medicines on July 24; the killing of seven civilians fleeing from Marja`youn on August 11; and the killing of seven and wounding of six civilians in the Beka` Valley on August 14. In all these cases, there is no evidence of a Hezbollah military presence that would justify the attacks."

The photo caption reads:
QANA, LEBANON - JULY 30: (EDITORS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) A rescue team member extracts the dead body of one of the victims of the Israeli air strike from the rubble of the building that was hit July 30, 2006 in Qana, Southern Lebanon. Approximately 56 civilians were killed, at least 34 of them children, and dozens trapped under debris, after an Israeli air strike on the village of Qana in southern Lebanon, resulted in the deadliest attack since fighting began. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Syria denies the right to travel

The human rights group HRINFO reports that Syrian authorities have this week denied Adnan Hamdan, the human rights activist and the member of the committee to protect democratic freedoms, from traveling to Cairo (31/8/2007) to attend a workshop on "blogging and human rights".

Syrian authorities also denied Ghazi Kadour (know as Abu Omar)—who is a member in the trustee council of the committees— from traveling to Amman on 3 September to attend a workshop on human rights.

The authorities also stopped Khai Deen Murad— the secretary of Azadi, a Kurdish party in Syria— from traveling to Norway to visit his family who are living there.

Last Sunday Syrian authorities detained Bashar al-Ameen (Abu Laurain), a political activist and the member of Azadi party. They took him to a unknown place. The whereabouts of Abdraouf Zino is also still unknown.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Beirut 1954

27 March 1954: AUB student protest against the Baghdad Pact

Excerpts : Stephen L. Penrose University Senate Minutes

'From early morning Saturday strong forces of police and gendarmes took up their stands at the gates of the University. The campus was fairly quiet until 11 o’clock, although the atmosphere was tense…

A few minutes before 12 o’clock the procession marched from the Main Gate around the library and then down toward the Medical Gate. This gate had been closed and chained by the security force.

When the demonstration arrived near the Social Sciences Building Mr. Thabit Mahayni, President of the Urwat, spoke to the crowds denouncing the alleged attempts of Western powers to bring pressure upon Iraq and the new Pakistan-Turkish Pact, and criticized the Lebanese Government and Mr. Yafi in particular for preventing the students from expressing their protest in public demonstration.

Following the speech students proceeded towards the gate and decided to open it by force. The security forces were supported by fire engines and the fire brigade directed the water hoses on the students.

A large number of students had carried stones in their pockets and they began to stone the security forces. The security forces were quiet for a little while, contenting themselves with the water that was directed against the students.

However, the Fire Department had brought only two trucks of water and they were soon exhausted. The students continued to throw stones and the security forces threw the stones back at them.

This lasted for a little while and then the shooting began…There were bullet marks on the iron fence, on the northwest corner of Post Hall, on the west of the Pharmacy Building which produced ricochets.

There are bullet marks in trees in front of the Social Sciences Building and on the walls of the Social Sciences Building from knee height to high on the building, proving that live bullets were fired at body height as well as in the air over the heads of the students.

From the time the shooting began the security forces were very severe and rather brutal. There are reports that they even dragged a student from an ambulance and hit him. Some of the doctors and technicians, even though wearing white coats, risked their lives in order to remove some wounded…

Upon investigation at the AUB Hospital we found that 26 injured students reached the Hospital.

It has been stated that the shooting from the security forces did not come from the police but from the gendarmerie, and they claim that the first shot came from a building inside the University and from adjacent buildings outside the campus.'

The image is of students attempting to help a wounded friend. It is a screen grab from Pathe News of the protest. The footage is available from the Pathe website (just fill in the form and download the low res—it's a silent film)

Syria oil price rises

Mosaic TV news roundup has a translated report from LBC channel on the public reaction to the end of fuel subsidies in Syria. It's the third item.

The story is an illustration of how ordinary people are more and more prepared to speak out against the neo-liberal economic polices of the government.

"If the state wants to rise prices, first they should clear it by the citizens", says one.

Jordan 2007

A new blog from Jordan reports (in Arabic) on the protests by herders sparked by a rise in the price of barley feed.

The picture above is from the AP photojournalist Mohammad abu Ghosh.

The caption reads: A Jordanian man passes by a burning tire in Amman on Thursday, Aug, 30, 2007. Jordanian riot police clashed with more than 200 Bedouin herders blocking the country's main highway with burning tires in protest over price hikes for animal feed, said witnesses on the scene. Police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and riot batons, swiftly dispersing the crowd. The highway between the capital Amman and the port of Aqaba was then reopened.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tripoli 1969

A fascinating documentary in French made in 1969 about the fighting between the Arab nationalists, Palestinians and the army. Includes interviews with rebels and politicians such as Rachid Karameh, Pierre Gemayel and others.

The fighting lead to the Cairo Accords that gave the Palestinians control over their camps and the right to use Lebanon to launch raids on Israel.

Go to the link Veillée d'armes au Liban

Monday, 3 September 2007


I have been uploading my collection of photos from Lebanese history on the Shamali sister blob. Go to

Sit-in at the port

Municipality workers in the port of Beirut staged a sit-in at the union offices to protest agaisnt the non payment of wages.
The protest lasted 3 hours. The leader of the union explained that the "workers have not receive their salaries since last July".