Lebanon in 2005, illustration of citizens responsibility
This is a narrative report, with some photos related to the historical moments that we created and witnessed in Lebanon in the spring, and that were the illustration of what can citizen’s responsibility mean.
Lebanon lived this year historical events that changed the political conditions established since 1991, when the war ended and the Syrian regime controlled the whole country.
The Syrian regime reacted to this campaign in February 2005, and it is widely believed that it ordered its Lebanese allies to assassinate PM Hariri.
The brutal crime in which Hariri and 19 other people were killed launched an unprecedented wave of anger in the country, and pushed all opposition groups to unify and to call for an independence upraising (Intifada).
Political parties and movements, from the right, the center and the left met and negotiated a political platform with 4 major priorities:
The upraising called for by these parties and groups consisted of mobilizing citizens from all political, communitarian and social backgrounds to take in charge their responsibilities and their destiny for the first time in Lebanese history in order to achieve the 4 (above mentioned) priorities.
Beirut witnessed in February, March, April and May what can be considered as a political and social spring.
The biggest demonstration ever took place in March 14, when more than 1 million Lebanese marched to the center of Beirut, a center destroyed during the war in rebuilt in the last decade. The demonstration gathered around 60% of the active population of the country, a world record according to BBC, AFP and different credible sources.
Arab satellites and international media were covering the events, and many arab intellectuals and progressive movements hoped what happened in Beirut will get reproduced in their cities and countries.
Students, activists, teachers, private sector employees, intellectuals and politicians worked together and produced a new experience in the country. Dialogue and peaceful ways were the only tools used and a democratic laboratory was under construction.
A camp gathering young students from all regions and political affiliation was built in the center of Beirut and thousands of people spent their days and nights in it. In this camp, discussion circles were regularly organized, and massive distribution of brochures and documents took place.
In June, after the opposition alliance won its battle, and 3 out its 4 priorities were fulfilled, the alliance between its components ended, and a new political moment with new alliances started in the country.
At the same time, assassinations and explosions targeting intellectuals, journalists, and citizens (and widely believed to be Syrian regime’s terror and revenge acts) brought the country back to some of its old memories related to the war, and created economic stagnation.
Nowadays, Lebanon is waiting for the UN investigation report on the assassination of PM Hariri. The report will open definitely a new era in the region, and will unveil killers and terrorists who committed in Lebanon hundreds of assassinations and were never punished.
Activities related to the Charter
To profit from this context, and to disseminate the Charter and link the message it contains to a huge amount of people, no activities were based directly on the text of the Charter itself, even though it was widely distributed (more than 15000 copies). What we did was to organise a series of dialogue circles on the concept of citizens’ responsibility in the martyr’s square in Beirut, and in youth camps in the south and the north of the country (see photos).
In addition, many discussion circles on the responsibility of Arab intellectuals after the assassination of journalist and historian Samir Kassir and political leader Georges Hawi, were organized as well in which notions of solidarity, commitment, honesty and determination were in the heart of all interventions.