News from Beirut May 31 1997 ...Search

-Lebanon-Freedoms, GLC Abu Rizk Under Arrest

Lebanon General Labor Confederation GLC former leader Elias Abu Rizk has been arrested May 30 for charges of claiming Leadership of the GLC and taking over this authority. The decision was taken by Beirut prosecutor general Abdallah Bitar after 3 hours investigating Abu Rizk for three consecutive hours. Beirut first investigating judge Saeed Mirza is to once again investigate Abu Rizk and would decide continued arrest or release. Abu Rizk's arrest faced wide nation denunciation as it came in surprise move highlighting the split inside Lebanon GLC. The arrest came prior to the decision of the civil preliminary court which is reviewing the conflict over the latest elections of the GLC.

Abu Rizk was supposed to leave shortly to Copenhagen and later Geneva in his capacity as member of the World Labor Organization board to participate in the labor summit conference and the world labor conference. The two conferences were expected to clear the stand of the WLO on the labor split here judging on the correspondences of the two rival GLC's in Lebanon. Judicial authorities here revealed that general prosecutor Adnan Addoum was notified May 30 that Abu Rizk has sent a letter to the World Syndicates Conference claiming that some persons are going to be physically terminated and he is one of those. He accused the state authorities of that action.

Addoum is to inquire next week authenticity of Abu Rizk letter and the reason why he did not complaint to the judiciary here to investigate the claim for sake of his safety. Expectations yesterday said Abu Rizk would be released today because such a reserve arrest does not comply with the case. His insistence on being still the president of the GLC was given as reason for the arrest. Abu Rizk rival Ghoneim Zoghbi who leads the government recognized faction of the GLC, among the many other political, parliamentary, and party officials denouncing the arrest, said he is against the arrest of any syndicate figure including "our colleague Abu Rizk".

The National Meeting of the Coral Beach (comprising opposition figures) emergency committee is to hold today a meeting in Beirut to decide measures to be taken. Prime minister's Hariri circles refrained to comment on the arrest saying "the whole issue is exclusively between the GLC,labor ministry, and Abu Rizk, and the prime minister has nothing to do with it ".

Former prime minister Selim Hoss said he regrets the arrest took place before the judiciary takes decision on the conflict over the GLC elections. The man has a distinguished rank in the labor movement and enjoys respect of many Lebanese for his national and syndicate stands. Hoss said perhaps the arrest has relation with averting his travel to participate in a conference abroad.

MP Boutros Harb said he is wondering that the arrest was enforced before the judiciary settles the dispute over GLC last elections. Harb said a reserve arrest is only taken in the case when its awared that the suspect will runaway, have a criminal record, or have not any known residence, or if his runaway would cause intolerable damages or risks. Harb argued what are the motives for such arrest in such case. Harb said he is keen that the general prosecutions not to divert into an executive power instrument and remain free in its decisions even if its obliged to consider the government guided pursue. Harb said he wished that such an unjustified arrest did not take place, hoping that the investigating judge today will take the stand that match with the Lebanese aspiration, namely that the judiciary remains shelter for every one.

MP Nassib Lahoud said "its definite that the prison is not adequate for Abu Rizk. They can arrest one person or more but cannot arrest the principle of defending freedom of the labors or the media. There are more than one case before the judiciary and the case of yesterday is one provision of other key issues".

MP Najah Wakim said the arrest is a continuation of the authority intimidated policy of oppressing

freedoms and a strike at the free labor movement. Head of the journalists association Melhem Karam said "everyday there is another evidence that the freedom's massacre is going on. Everyday there is reverse step backward as if it is intended to cause a revolution inside Lebanon. The arrest of Abu Rizk is not permitted even in such country as Zaire under Mobuto, because it reflect an ugly face. What happened is the most successful method for Abu Rizk to be a candidate for Nobel prize for freedoms. The harm to Lebanon's rule is to be taken today when some 45 magnet of the World Labor movement meet in Copenhagen denounce Lebanon and accuse it of oppressing freedoms". More denunciations were issued by political parties and groups.

South Lebanon -Peace Process

French ambassador in Lebanon affirmed that his country will not surrender to the freeze of the peace process, emphasizing the role of the cease-fire monitoring panel to avert military escalation in south Lebanon. After his first meeting with foreign minister Boueiz since presentation of his credentials, the ambassador said the panel played very useful and positive role in averting escalation and infliction of more victims. He praised the cooperation between the groups parties, namely between the Lebanese and French members, during the French chairmanship of the panel.

UK state minister for foreign relations left Beirut back to London yesterday following a tour that took him to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Palestinian self rule land, and Israel. His 17 hours visit to Beirut May 30 was the end of the tour. He said in Beirut his country wants to share in the peace process. He said his country wants to consolidate and develop bilateral relations with Lebanon. On the peace process, he said there should be no depression and the positive expectations on peace did not totally die, and there should be continued efforts to resume the peace talks.

The SLA sources said its outpost at Sojod came under fire Thursday evening and yesterday and that its artillery fired back at the attackers claiming it has inflicted casualties among them. The Israeli navy seized a fishing boat off the town of Tyre for 6 hours investigating the fishermen the implications related to suicide sea operation by martyr Hisham Fahs against one their vessels. The Islamic resistance said its fighters attacked the SLA outposts at Sojod, Bir Kallab, Markaba, also Kassarat al Ouroush, inflicting casualties among the enemy ranks.

In Jerusalem, Israeli military sources said the Israeli soldiers killed yesterday two Hizbullah men while two others would runaway when their unit attempted infiltration into the security zone. The same sources said Israeli choppers chased the two and opened its fire on them but it was uncertain if they were hit or not. The Islamic resistance in Beirut denied the Israeli claim.


Lebanon emigrants minister Talal Arsalan assured yesterday that contacts aimed at evacuating the Lebanese emigrants in Freetown are going on. He said another MEA plane is now waiting in Ivory Coast the reopening of Freetown airport to resume evacuation. He quoted Lebanese ambassador there saying some 650 Lebanese, mostly dependents, are waiting aircrafts to return them back to Lebanon. Arsalan said the Americans are evacuating their nationals and contacts are underway with them to evacuate some of the Lebanese. The minister denied news saying some 21 Lebanese in Sierraleone are missing adding that the embassy there did not report that.

He quoted the Lebanese ambassador saying number of the Lebanese community is 8-9 thousand, with 650 wishing to return back. News reports said out of the 9,000 Lebanese there are some 1,000 from the town of Rahbeh in Akkar. A Lebanese emigrant who recently came back said 7,000 Lebanese out of the total are living in the capital Freetown, where they used to have distinguished economical and financial status. The man said 90 per cent of the Lebanese shops were looted and destroyed and other Lebanese were forced under threat to pay their life long earnings to save their families.


The prospected visit of Dr. Bashar Assad to Bkerke would take place in the coming 36 hours. The visit is under spotlights and a main concern. Patriarch Sfair discussed the visit with prime minister Hariri who called him on phone. Bkerke is receiving massive visitors before it close its doors extraordinarily Monday for one week two days before the meeting of the Maronite bishops. Among yesterday's visitors Chuf MP Wadeeh Akl who informed the Patriarch developments related to the displaced issue. Akl said an interrupted financing of the repatriation is causing a psychological shock for the displaced. He said the repatriation should be steady and continuous, instead of paying this year to build a part and pay more a year later to build another part. Akl said a proposal ensuring enough financing including resources and taxes is stumbling for unknown reasons.

The NLP party weekly meeting under Douri Chamoun, commenting on the news regarding visit of Dr. Bashar Assad, said in a statement yesterday it is wondering the fabricated noisy campaign on the visit. It said 'Bkerke under the Patriarch had never closed the door for anyone, and hosted in many occasions the world most distinguished civic and religious personalities, adopting firm systematic method based on solid national stands. The Patriarch had never diverted from the line of the great church men, and committed in his addresses, to justice, freedom, equality, balanced partnership, and the plural democracy, which without the common living would not be straight, also his calling for independence, sovereignty and free decision which is the fundamentals of nations".

News In Brief

- News today said a European diplomat wondered the extension of term of  the president and army commander as if there are no substitutes in Lebanon.

- Tapping telephones widened to include now journalists.

- Lebanon parliament extraordinary session will take place from June 2 until July 15 in order to discuss draft laws that had been placed over and any other bill that the house board decide to pass it.

- Deputy speaker Elie Firzli in a lecture in Byblos said "we should proceed a dialogue that purifies the public memory of any implication that prevailed between Lebanon and its environment. We can't, with the logic of geo politics imagine an affiliation to the Arab world, as translated by the apostolic guidance, without the clear gateway that is Syria".

- Muslim Shiite senior cleric sheikh Hani Fahs, asked to assess and anticipate over the Iranian newly elect president Mohammed Khatami, said "the relation between Iran and Lebanon will develop positively, a new history has started now between Iran and the Muslim Shiite Supreme Council, and a review of relation between Iran and Hizbullah will take place."

- Waste dump at Monte Verde designed to serve as substitute of the Quarantine dump was closed yesterday upon instruction of the environment minister and after Mansourieh people outcried in protest. The Greenpeace Lebanon representative said prime minister Hariri ordered halt of the dump.

- Transport minister Omar Miskawi said the works on Byblos small harbor were upon request of the MPs in the area and are merely rehabilitation. He said the ministry of culture should OK the plan before any further constructions. UNESCO has warned recently to cancel Byblos from the list of world heritage due to constructions in the harbor.

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