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Repercussions of Bab Al-Tabbeneh War in Northern Lebanon on the Victims of Torture and Civilians (Sep 2008)
Historic background:

The region of Al-Tabbeneh is one of the three gates surrounded by the north, therefore, the region of Bab Al-Tabbeneh that used to be economically and commercially prosperous, is considered as the northern gate of Tripoli and the most important region in the city.

It has an important economic and commercial activity given the number of businesses, industrial companies, cinemas and cafes in this region. Yet, like the rest of Lebanese regions, it witnessed a lot of incidents since 1975, beginning of civil war date.

The most important incident was on the 6th of February 1986 where a terrible massacre was done by the Syrian army. Thousands were killed and displaced; buildings, houses and companies were destroyed; and since that time, the region of Bab Al-Tabbeneh became an address for poverty and misery.

The region of Al-Tabbeneh is one of the poorest regions of Lebanon where people suffer from poverty, malnutrition and bad education. Governmental and private institutions do not exist in this area, which makes it deprived from any kind of care, knowing that it has a population density estimated at 145,000 and a very bad civil organization because the buildings are very close to each other.

All these kinds of poverty and deprival in this region, in addition to the incidents that it suffered from during the civil war, and the late incidents that lead to the renewal of clashes with Jabal Mohsen, created a fragmented social and psychological situation, as well as a bad economic situation.

It is important to emphasize the last incidents and their consequences on the psychological, social and economic levels.

Bab Al-Tabbeneh and Jabal Mohessen were not far away from the political tensions and divisions between the political parties in the country. And it is known that these two regions have always suffered from small conflicts that were never big enough to become more than individual incidents.

The quite and passive feelings transformed to malignancy, especially after the 6th of February 1986. And as a result of the political divisions and of the weak security situation in Lebanon since 2005, new clashes occurred on the 10th of May 2008 between Al-Tabbeneh and Jabal Mohssen and are still lasting until now.
During these clashes, many destructive weapons were being used, many houses and buildings were destroyed, a lot of families were displaced again, and a lot of them lost any residence or refuge.
The businesses and industrial companies were whether closed or destroyed or damaged by the bombing, and consequently, a large number of persons lost its work. This makes them have a permanent feeling of fear and instability.
These incidents left behind them very bad psychological and social effects and they increased the malignancy between the two parties.
Depression is dominant in these regions, and the situation there cannot be described with words.

It is to mention that there is a lot of missing people in Bab Al-Tabbeneh, and that a lot of residents died under torture. Some were even imprisoned and liberated, and they live in this region where they suffer more than anyone else because they were already tortured to death in the Syrian prisons. They still carry psychological and physical effects from their prison experience, and they now feel that they were moved from a small prison to a bigger one.

The psychological effects made some of these former prisoners participate in the late incidents to take their revenge (as they pretend) and to satisfy their inferiority complex. Yet, some others say they will never participate in the fight because nothing can compensate what they passed through during their imprisonment period.

KRC went to the house of the victim of torture D.CH who spent ten years in the Syrian prisons and suffered from the worst ways of torture there. What catches the eye the most in his house is the burnt living room and the broken doors and windows. His family moved three months ago, they are living with some relatives.

As for the prisoner A.H who spent three years in the Syrian prisons, he suffered a lot because he was affected by tuberculosis and his family was displaced to Denniyeh because their house is facing Jabal Mohssen and it was bombed several times. All the glass shields are broken in the house, the walls are damaged and deformed; and the former prisoner is only asking to live in peace and safety.

Then, KRC went to the house of the prisoner M.N who spent five years in the Syrian prisons where they hit him on his feet until he became paralyzed. He lost ability to walk and he’s still being treated until now.
When the clashes began, he fell on his right foot, and two days later, while he was going to the bathroom, he felt again on the same foot. His foot was broken, he went to the hospital on the 14th of July and did an operation, and he now urgently needs a doctor.
The mother broke two toes during the clashes, so her bad situation as well as the bad situation of her son, made the two stay home despite the clashes.

As for the victim of torture S.A who spent three years in the Syrian prisons, his foot was cut in the prison and his psychological situation is very bad because his family has been eating bulgur and lentils for several days; this reminded him of his imprisonment time which made him become nervous and angry.
His house was bombed many times and the building facing his houses was destroyed, so his house and all the neighboring houses were covered of black smoke. Moreover, the prisoner is always worried about the way he’s going to provide money to pay the education of his children.

The victim of torture A.M who spent four years in the Syrian prisons is currently jobless since the clashes started three months ago. His family was displaced to Denniyeh because his house was bombed the most. Bombs and bullets penetrated the walls of his bedroom and living room and all his blankets were burnt. The prisoner’s house is being damaged for the second time, because it was first bombed in 1986.

Then, KRC went to the victim of torture H.A who spent three years in the Syrian prisons where he suffered from all kinds of torture. When we arrived, his wife was just coming back from the hospital, she was affected by a clot when the clashes began and she is still in pain until now. The house of the former prisoner was already bombed, and when the fight begins, the whole family goes to the refuge at the bottom of the building.

As for the prisoner H.M, he spent seven years and a half in the Syrian prisons with his brother and his father, but his father is still missing until now. The store of the prisoner was destroyed from the front side and his house was bombed, which affected his psychological situation; he was feeling depressed and angry.

The victim of torture A.A spent five years in the Syrian prisons. He is now having a lot of social and medical problems because he stopped going to work and his financial situation is decreasing. He’s even angrier than before for he said: “I was imprisoned for five years, but I wish I get imprisoned again so I don’t have to pass through this sad life of humiliation and suffering and deprival”.

The victim of torture J.Z spent three years in the Syrian prisons, he cannot see with one of his eyes because he has a handicappe and he’s suffering from a lot of problems. During the clashes, he had so much difficulty to take his son to Beirut (kidney washing treatment); as for his wife, when she was hanging the wash on the clothesline, the rope was cut and fell on a man’s back downstairs, so J.Z. had to borrow money from his family to pay the treatment expenses of the man.

The victim of torture I.T spent 7 years and a half in the Syrian prisons. We talked about the situation in the region of Tabbeneh and about the bad days his family is passing through. The glass shields were broken in his house because it was bombed several times.
The victim of torture Kh.T spent ten years in the Syrian prisons. We just met his wife who was suffering from psychological problems because of the dangerous incidents she’s witnessing everyday and that made her husband stop his work.

Then, we went to the house of the victim of torture J.A.I who spent twelve years in the Syrian prisons. He’s suffering a lot, he has two girls in school and he cannot provide the money for their education. Moreover, we noticed that they were eating thyme and olive during more than five days because his financial situation is very bad. As for his wife, she has a very bad psychological situation because of the pressure she’s living (the clashes, providing food for her children, displacement from her house…)

The victim of torture F.B spent seven years in the Syrian prisons, three of them were in a solitary cell. The clashes had negative repercussions on the financial, psychological and medical levels; his house was hit today by bombs and bullets and he stopped going to work. His wife told us that he always sits alone and cry.

During our tour on the liberated prisoners who were mentioned, a group of children between 6 and 12 years catched our eyes. They were playing a game where they are divided into two groups, the first one calls itself (boys of Tabbeneh), the second one calls itself (Jabal Mohssen) and they put a block (a plastic box between them). The wiry and wireless instruments they were using are the cans of Pepsi Cola. As for the weapons, they were using small stones, guns of wood and cartoon, and they brought a plastic bottle, cut it from the top, and put a balloon from the other side to throw pebbles. Moreover, they were saying many names of weapons that we never heard about.

We sat with some of these children; at the beginning they thought we were spies and that we were going to give information about them to Jabal Mohssen. But after a while, they loved us, so we asked them about the kind of presents they would like someone to offer them. And the answer was: bombs, M-16, Doshka, B-7….. (weapon names)
So we asked them why they don’t ask for toys such as a ball or a bicycle, so they made fun of me and asked: what would these toys serve us for?

We left Bab Al-Tabbeneh with a thousand ideas struggling in our heads, especially after the report of the children and young boys play. All young boys between 12 and 16 years are thinking of is death, destruction and revenge. This is what we saw in this region; and the people there are divided to several groups who follow a certain party or political leader.

The young forgot about their studies, work and future, and they started to think about all the possible ways of revenge.
As for children, how did their games, dances and laughs vanish? Are they buried or did the older ones throw them away?

Bab Al-Tabbeneh and Jabal Mohssen in the North, Taalbaya and Saadnayel in Bekaa, and Beirut, are victims of wrong wars. Civilians, and especially the poor ones are suffering from these wars, and their repercussions are worst on the former prisoners and their families.

Bab Al-Tabbeneh and Jabal Mohssen are two stricken regions on the economic, social and psychological levels. The government, the international community and the humanitarian institutions should put development, economic, social and medical plans to rehabilitate these regions and to support them in every possible way.

KRC Team
Northern Lebanon