The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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October 31, 2011

Daily Star - Funding STL essential for stability in Lebanon: Jumblatt, October 31, 2011

By Wassim Mroueh
ALEY, Lebanon: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said Sunday that funding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was essential for stability in the country and maintained his call for an end to Syria’s crackdown on the popular uprising.Jumblatt made his remarks while chairing a PSP general assembly in the mountain town of Aley, where he also said that he would not compete for PSP president when elections are next held.
“We stress that funding the tribunal is a fundamental and essential principle that leads to stability and at the same time we understand Hezbollah’s sensitivity over the potential politicization [of the tribunal],” said Jumblatt. “I was among the first who criticized its politicization when some of the tribunal’s findings were leaked through Der Spiegel and other international media outlets.”
The funding of the STL, which was established by the U.N. to try the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other figures, is a source of contention in the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati is under pressure from the opposition March 14 parties and world powers to honor Lebanon’s commitments to U.N. resolutions, including Resolution 1757, which established the tribunal.
But Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah was adamant last week that his party, which dominates the Cabinet along with its allies, was opposed to Lebanon paying its share, amounting to more than $30 million, to the STL. Hezbollah has described the court as “an Israeli-American” tool targeting the resistance. The STL indicted four members from the party in Hariri’s assassination in early summer, with the party strongly denying any involvement.
Jumblatt highlighted the significance of the resistance’s arms in defending Lebanon against Israel.
The PSP leader said it was necessary that Lebanese leaders resume sessions of the National Dialogue Committee to agree on a national defense strategy “because the principle of the state remains the first and last guarantee for everybody, the people and resistance.”
At the beginning of his speech, Jumblatt asked attendees to observe a minute of silence to honor the “martyrs of Arab revolutions” in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.
Addressing more than 500 PSP members, including veterans, MPs and ministers who had gathered to elect a new command council, Jumblatt made what he called “recommendations” on the situation in the Arab world in general, touching on the ongoing unrest in Syria and the situation in Palestine, along with PSP affairs.
The Chouf MP reiterated calls for the Syrian regime to end its brutal crackdown against the uprising, which has challenged the rule of President Bashar Assad’s regime for more than eight months, and called for dialogue between the regime and the opposition. He also called for trying those responsible for the killing of civilians and security forces.
Jumblatt endorsed the Arab League’s calls for both sides in Syria to hold talks in Cairo under its auspices. Jumblatt said that Lebanon’s security was intertwined with Syria’s, a fact he said required ending the smuggling of arms from Lebanon to Syria, “if it exists.” However, Jumblatt rejected incursions across Lebanon’s borders by Syrian troops under any circumstances.
The Syrian army crossed the border with Lebanon several times in October, killing a Syrian farmer in one of the incidents.
Jumblatt said he supported providing aid for Syrian refugees who fled unrest in their country to north Lebanon and urged Lebanese security bodies to respect the right of some Syrian dissidents to seek political asylum in Lebanon and express their opinion, but not to carry out aggressive acts against Syria.
“I say so because the disappearance of Shibli Aisamy and others at the hands of Lebanese ‘Shabbiha’ and officials, who seem to be from a diplomatic mission, is unacceptable,” Jumblatt said. “Shabbiha” is a term used to describe pro-Assad gunmen who are taking part in the crackdown on demonstrators in Syria.
In May, Aisamy, an 86-year-old Syrian dissident, was abducted in Aley.
During a meeting of Parliament’s human rights committee in early October, head of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, expressed his belief that Aisamy, along with three Syrian brothers from the Jasem family who disappeared in February, had been kidnapped by members of the ISF who work at the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.
Jumblatt, who won the PSP presidency uncontested Sunday, promised this was the last time he would run for the post.
“This is the last time I am a candidate. The command council to be elected today will be considered a transitional council … that prepares for new elections,” he said. “I hope this will not take more than one year … After that, the way will be open for any comrade wishing to run for the presidency to submit his candidacy.”
Jumblatt urged supporters “to get out of their heads” the idea that his son would replace him in PSP’s top post, adding, however, that his parliamentary seat and the role of the Jumblatt family was “a personal and political matter, which will be discussed in relevant circles. But for sure I say no to the inheritance of posts.”
Jumblatt said that from now on, there would be no appointments in the PSP as all officials would be elected. The party had previously used both methods.
Lowering party membership age from 20 to 18 and reducing the term of the command council from four to three years were also among Jumblatt’s announcements.
Jumblatt became the PSP’s leader following the assassination of his father, Kamal, on March 16, 1977.
“Arab tyranny killed Kamal Jumblatt,” Jumblatt said, implicitly referring to the Syrian regime.
Jumblatt’s eldest son Taymour, who is widely believed to be the heir apparent, did not attend the general assembly.
The results of the elections were announced in the afternoon, with a number of young PSP members joining the 12-member command council.
Jumblatt’s decision not to run in the future or be replaced by his son created mixed reactions among PSP members.
“There are young people who joined the party based on its principles and support such a move,” Rayan Ashkar, the secretary-general of the PSP’s Progressive Youth Organization, told The Daily Star. “But to be honest, some party officials consider the leader as sacred and might reject the idea that he will not run anymore for the presidency.”

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