ICEJ NEWS - 08/29/2001
The crackdown on Christians opposed to the Syrian stranglehold over Lebanon continues, as plain-clothes Syrian agents infiltrated a peaceful rally late last week and beat up protesters, cameramen and even local police.
A peaceful anti-Syria demonstration at the Justice Palace in Beirut last Thursday turned into a bloody clash in which more than 30 people were injured. Some 150 men, believed to be Syrian intelligence operatives dressed in black shirts, jeans and military boots, started to infiltrate the crowd and instigate fights with Christian activists. During the ensuing melee, the unknown men beat up over 30 people, smashed a TV camera filming the assault and even traded punches with Lebanese troops and police when they tried to intervene.
The rally was called to demand the release of dozens of Lebanese Christians and several journalists arrested on trumped up charges of collaborating with Israel and endangering state security. Some of the detainees could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of holding contacts with Israel. One journalist was charged of collaborating with an enemy by planning to meet with an Israeli on Cyprus. Another media arrest may be linked to a report that Syrian troops and tanks had recently crossed into Lebanon to reinforce other Syrian forces stationed in the Beka'a Valley and that they may be headed for Beirut.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.