Lebanon’s Judiciary: Arrest the People!

Pascale Sawma
Lebanese Journalist
June 16, 2020

We were waiting for the public prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Oweidat, to charge all those who plundered the Lebanese people, and all those who used their power to destroy the state, society and economy.

However, Oweidat and his fellow judges decided to proceed in the opposite direction. They decided to prosecute citizens for posts they published on Facebook and Twitter instead of going after those who used their positions to further their own interests at the expense of the country’s.

Judge Ghassan Oweidat

With the dollar dancing on our collective grave, we were hoping for in-depth and transparent investigations into who led the country to bankruptcy. Not to mention the scourge of unemployment of which about a million citizens suffer.

These Facebook posts must have really upset Oweidat who ordered the Central Criminal Investigation Department to uncover the identities of the publishers. According to Oweidat, the posts offended the president, and hence the people behind them must be prosecuted for libel. The police state in which we live, had already begun adopting the “muzzling policy” months before Oweidat. For example, minors were arrested for burning a picture of President Michel Aoun during the October 17 demonstrations.

In other words, Oweidat’s decision was but the culmination in a series of arrests and repressive measures aimed at punishing people who have nothing left but their voice. Instead of chasing the killers, the thieves, the bargainers, the exploiters, and those who surrendered our country’s interests to others, the bloggers who wrote about what was happening, or expressed their anger and despair, are the ones being arrested.

It seems that anger is forbidden in the republic of “the Lira is fine,” “coexistence,” and “the army-people-resistance.”

We would have preferred for Judge Oweidat to investigate, for example, the identities of those who hit the protesters on the Beirut Ring Bridge or those who ordered the intervention of the security forces.

It is clear, however, that Oweidat’s number one priority is to ban anyone from criticizing the President of the Republic. But, Mr. Judge, the President did many things before he became President.

Indeed we are aware of his past and actions, and we know that he was the one who signed the Understanding of Mar Mikhael. He is the one who drew a dream of reform and change, which was shattered soon after.

We have the right to criticize and question him even if you disagree. We have the right to criticize Aoun not only because he is the President, but also because, first, he is “The General” and, second, he is the founder of the Aounist movement. His party, headed by the President’s well-known son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, governs us.

How can we not question Aoun, while he is the president of this collapsed republic, which our friends and brothers have to leave in search of a better life? During “the term” of Aoun as they call it, as if it was the only presidential term to have ever existed, the country hit rock bottom.

Mr. Judge, can you imagine that a can of tuna is now worth 10,000 Lira! 4 lemons cost 4,000 Lira, and baby milk 70,000 Lira! And still you are talking about the sanctity of dignitaries!

Pardon me, Your Excellency, after what I have said – which is only the tip of the iceberg – but no one should ever be sanctified other than the people. The people and only the people!

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