Safa speech on the occasion of 26 June
Speech of Secretary General Mr. Mohammad Safa, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture,
Press conference that announces the program of June 26, 2011
Every year, the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture celebrates the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture in the framework of the global campaign organized by IRCT, The International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, the United Nations, and other humanitarian organizations, to state that torture is a crime against humanity.
The title of 2011 campaign is Poverty because it is the predecessor and passage to torture, violence, murder, drugs, terrorism and all other human rights violations.
The absence of social justice and economic exploitation leads to violence and torture against marginalized groups such as the poor, women, children, prisoners, and refugees.
Was not the death of Khalid Saeed, a victim of torture in Alexandria, Egypt one of the main reasons behind the advent of the Egyptian revolution?
Was not the incident of Mohammed Bouazizi, who burned himself after being tortured by the Tunisian police, the spark of Tunis revolution?
Was not the health and psychological deterioration of Roumieh prisoners the root of the uprising that has occurred in Roumieh prison lately?
Was not the housing crisis the main cause of violations of public properties, in more than one area in Lebanon, and that subsequently lead to many injuries?
For all these reasons and many others, we raise our voices against poverty. The increasing rates of poverty, the deterioration of economic conditions, the absence of justice, the lack of services, the erosion of wages, the accumulation of debt, unemployment, and migration will all lead to waves of violence, torture and abuse to victims, and an increase in poor and marginalized groups.
On June 26, 2011, we, the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture demand an end to torture in Lebanese prisons and a call for punishment of perpetrators everywhere.
The Roumieh prisoners uprising on April 2, 2011 showed that Lebanese prisons are graves for living people, where an inherent violation of human dignity exists, and where physical and psychological torture is taking place.
The long ongoing investigations, absence of trials, overcrowding, and the failure to apply the minimum rules of the United Nations protocols for the treatment of prisoners is a form of extreme torture.
Lebanese prisons are a disgrace to the Lebanese state that is ignoring the priorities of this humanitarian issue.
What happened and is still happening in Lebanese prisons is not only a violation of prisoners’ rights, but is also a clear violation of Lebanon's endorsement of the UN Convention against Torture.
In addition, the Lebanese government’s delay for 11 years to submit its report to the Committee against Torture at the United Nations indicates the priorities of torture and human rights.
On June 26, 2011 the file of the missing and the victims of enforced disappearances, whether they are in Israel or Syria, is still an open file that is not gaining official and serious interest. That is because of the lack of political will and the fact that most perpetrators of enforced disappearances are influential in the Lebanese state. We hope that the amnesty Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad announced will contribute to uncover the fate of missing Lebanese in Syria.
In Lebanon, the crime of enforced disappearances has resurfaced after the kidnapping of seven Estonians late last year; and also, the disappearance of the Syrian scholar Shibley Aisami on May 24, 2011, in Aley, Lebanon.
On June 26, 2011 we raise our voices against political sectarianism that transformed Lebanon into a big prison called the sectarian system.
Sectarianism is a crime that exceeds the traditional sense of torture in a prison through the sense of cruelty. It is torture to people as a whole, so I see us together, on both a national and youth level, mobilizing and demanding the abolition of political sectarianism.
Sectarianism in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and poverty and torture are predecessors to civil wars, violence and internal instability, torture and destruction of a national, political, and social structure for homelands.
On June 26, 2011 we raise our voice to demand the end of all forms of discrimination against women and the adoption of a law criminalizing domestic violence. Discrimination is a form of torture through its causes and motives; it is a violation of the rights of women, children, and human rights.
On June 26, 2011 we strongly condemn the brutal repression of protests calling for reform within Arab countries, we consider the Israeli repression of Palestinian people, and Arab repression within the respective nations fall in the same category: a violation of human rights.
Nothing can justify torture, terrorism, political instability, and external conspiracies.
On the March 17, 2011, Lebanon announced at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on November 10, 2010 during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), its agreement to all the recommendations on torture. Furthermore, Lebanon agreed to an establishment of a national mechanism to prevent torture, increase its penalties on torture, and awareness to the issue of missing persons through the establishment of an independent national committee to investigate the fate of missing persons, victims of enforced disappearances, and to address the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Despite the passage of the agreement, the approval before the highest authority for human rights in the world, 4 months after this agreement recommendations have still not materialized.
On June 26, 2011 we ask the government to:
1. Fight against poverty, unemployment, immigration, high prices, and housing crisis by addressing the root of the economic situation and strengthening citizens’ economic and social rights: the right to health, the right to education, the right to shelter, and the right to adequate standard of living.
2. Develop a mechanism in a specific time to implement the recommendations approved by Lebanon in the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011 in cooperation with the civil society. In addition, establish a national preventive mechanism to prevent torture in prisons. Furthermore, criminalize torture in the Lebanese laws and the submission of overdue reports to the Committee against Torture and others.
3. Invite the United Nations Special Reporter on Torture to visit Lebanon, specifically to visit Roumieh prison and allow him to participate in the investigation of the massacre that took place on April 2, 2011 against the prisoners.
4. Reconsider the structures and procedures within the Lebanese penal institution; and also, reconsider the rehabilitation process of prisoners, bearing in mind that the mental, social, physical, psychological, and professional status of prisoners are the effects for treatment.
5. Consider that the issue of missing persons is a humanitarian national matter, and work to establish a commission of truth and fairness. In addition, develop rehabilitation programs for families of missing persons. Moreover, ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
6. Create a law that criminalizes incitement of sectarianism and develop awareness that liberates the Lebanese people from the worst prison of all, the sectarian prison.
7. Create a law that criminalizes domestic violence, approves civil and human rights of Palestinian refugees, and protects foreign workers from torture and abuse.
Poverty is torture, sectarianism is torture, discrimination is torture, Lebanese prisons are torture, and forced disappearances are torture.
On June 26, 2011 we call to issue a law that criminalizes torture, discrimination, sectarian incitement, and all forms of torture and abuse that degrades humanity.