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Irish Activists in Lebanon on 1st Anniversary of Israel's War

category international | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Sunday August 05, 2007 11:23author by Damien Moran Report this post to the editors

Damien Moran reports from Lebanon

featured image
Raytheon 9 in Southern Lebanon
Derry Anti-War Coalition visit to Lebanon
Over the past week I accompanied 12 members of the Derry Anti-War Coalition (DAWC), including the Raytheon 9, to visit communities in southern Lebanon which were devastated by the Israeli war last summer. We visited Bint Jbail and A'ita al-Chaab near the Israeli border, both of which received heavy bombardment from Israeli airstrikes and incursions from armoured bulldozers, tanks and troops, reducing civilian infrastructure to dust and pebble, their hearts to shock and fear, their eyes to tears for their lost loved ones. In addition to this, the DAWC protested outside the obliterated Palestinian refugee camp Nahr-al-Bared near Tripoli in Northern Lebanon.

The primary purpose of their visit was to lay a commemoration stone at Qana (read: Slaughter in Qana by the Israeli's), site of a brutal Israeli massacre of innocent civilians one year ago. A poignant ceremony took place on Monday last with families of the deceased, local community leaders and Lebanese media.

The plight of the Palestinians
The de facto war zone at Nahr-al-Bared between the Lebanese army and Fatah-al-Islam has been the scene of vicious fighting, deadly sniper attacks and indiscriminate destructive shelling which has smashed the once thriving commercial centre and 55 year old refugee camp to rubble. 123 Lebanese Army personnel and countless numbers of Fatah-al-Islam fighters, as well as scores of innocent refugees have been killed over the past 70 days. Over 50,000 innocent civilians have fled the battleground, the majority of whom were already displaced Palestinians many times over, forced to take up temporary shelter in the tiny, under-resourced and over-populated Baddawi camp, about 7 kilometres away.

This refugee camp, approximately 1.5 square kilometres in area, now houses up to 56,000 Palestinian refugees. Electricity cuts are frequent, safe drinking water lacking, sanitation systems under serious pressure, illness going under and untreated, internal hostilities growing. The residents are losing hope as they know their future is very uncertain and insecure.

Irish Activists on the Frontline
As part of their journey through Lebanon the DAWC held a series of high profile meetings with anti-war academics, resistance fighters, as well as spiritual and political leaders from the Lebanese community. The whole trip facilitated by the invaluable guidance and assistance of two veteran Irish pece activists, Caoimhe Butterly and Michael Birmingham. The latter are both on the frontline of human rights work in Lebanon and have in the past done similar owrk in Palestine and Iraq.

The tragedy of war
Both Lebanese victims of war and Palestinian refugees greeted us all with amazing warmth throughout our visit. The hospitality we received from the local Southern Lebanese communities and Palestinian refugees densely packed into Baddawi camp was one which strongly reminded us all of our duty to arry their message home and abroad and to continue to fight alongside them in their struggle for justice. Despite having to endure terrible living conditions - the Palestinian refugees facing an increasingly racist Lebanese community and a very indefinite future due to the destruction of their 50 year old home at Nahr al-Bared, the spirit of resistance is alive and well in these strongly-binded communities.

Act yesterday, not tomorrow
The debt DAWC and myself owe to Caoimhe and Michael is huge. They are both doing excellent work in Baddawi camp, though their humble personalities will admonish me for writing this, and as international activists are playing an invaluable role in drawing attention to the plight of the innocent civilians still caught up in Nahr-al-Bared. In the coming 24 hours I will try to outline how the Irish community could and need to respond to these pressing issues.

Some of the basic forms odf protest should be exercised though on their own they are not sufficient. Please get on to your local NGO if they are based in Lebanon - find out the work they are doing and request they defend and support the civil rights of Palestinians living in Lebanon.
Go to your local councillor or politician and ask them to use their influence to put pressure on, demand the Lebanese leaders do not collectively punish the civilians of Nahr al-Bared. Contact yiour local, national newspapers and demand they publish accurate and fair news on Lebanon's international obligations to not punish civilians alongside militants in Nahr-al-Bared and to obey all the Geneva Conventions.

Solidarity vigils with the residents of Baddawi-refugee camps could be held outside Lebanese consulates/embassies worldwide, as well as Israeli embassies to hold them accountable to the Palestinian right to return to their homeland. The ongoing boycott of Isralei goods is also essential. The publication of articles related to Nahr-al-Bared in publications you are involved with, have influence on will also help to make the international community respond in demanding a humantarian solutuion to a humantarian crisis. I'm sure there are many other things which can be done that I hope people will outline below and enact accordingly.

Time is running out for the citizens of Nahr-al-Bared, both trapped in the camp and in Baddawi camp. Supporting actions like those of the Raytheon 9, back in court on September 3rd in Derry, are quintessential if our resistance to militarism and the breaching of civil rights is to prove successful. In addition to this, supporting Michael and Caoimhe's work financially will go a long way to helping the refugees in the camp.

Michael can be contacted at michaelbirmingham1 at gmail dot com
Caoimhe can be contacted at sahara78 at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you would like to donate to their work please email them and ask for the relevant a/c details.

For very important background reading please see Caoimhe Butterly's indymedia report: 'Update on the situation in Nahr al Bared'

Related Link: http://www.electroniclebanon.net

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Photos from DAWC trip to Lebanon     DM    Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:34 
   Qana 'stronger' on anniversary of Israeli attack     anon    Sun Aug 05, 2007 05:54 
   What about Israeli rights ????     Michael Martin    Sun Aug 05, 2007 18:44 
   Crazy stuff     Feyadeen    Sun Aug 05, 2007 20:01 
   Bush's Executive Orders re: Lebanon     redjade    Sun Aug 05, 2007 20:16 
   to answer my own question...     redjade    Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:59 
   In the meantime     MichaelY    Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:15 
   Congratulations to Irish activists     Raymond Deane    Mon Aug 06, 2007 19:08 
   What is there to be done.............?     Ciaron    Mon Aug 06, 2007 19:55 
 10   Well done to the Raytheon 9     Fintan Lane    Mon Aug 06, 2007 23:43 
 11   Caoimhe Spotting: a wedding at Nahr el-Bared     redjade    Tue Aug 07, 2007 00:17 
 12   Michael Birmingham on Nahr al-Bared     DM    Tue Aug 07, 2007 17:03 
 13   Shan Cullen on his involvement in the Qana Commemoration project     DM    Tue Aug 07, 2007 18:02 
 14   A question of balance ?     avi15    Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:12 
 15   ...............     Nodin    Wed Aug 08, 2007 13:26 
 16   Clarification     DM    Wed Aug 08, 2007 13:58 
 17   Well said, Damien     Fintan Lane    Wed Aug 08, 2007 15:08 
 18   Wonderful report     Deirdre Clancy    Wed Aug 08, 2007 15:34 
 19   Danien...why not talk to Israelis     Felix Quigley    Wed Aug 08, 2007 17:44 
 20   Qana issue is still unresolved     Felix Quigley    Wed Aug 08, 2007 19:20 
 21   McCanns not the man it's Martin     Doire    Wed Aug 08, 2007 20:24 
 22   Doire.Duhhhhhhhhhhh     ?    Wed Aug 08, 2007 20:54 
 23   smashing computers is no big deal     Doire    Wed Aug 08, 2007 21:06 
 24   .............     Nodin    Wed Aug 08, 2007 21:24 
 25   ................................     Nodin    Wed Aug 08, 2007 21:34 
 26   Felix, 4 answers for you to question     DM    Wed Aug 08, 2007 21:40 
 27   Doire     Deirdre Clancy    Thu Aug 09, 2007 09:59 
 28   Hostages     avi15    Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:23 
 29   the world turned on its head     observer    Thu Aug 09, 2007 12:03 
 30   ..........     Nodin    Thu Aug 09, 2007 13:37 
 31   Re:...............     Michael Martin    Thu Aug 09, 2007 21:24 
 32   Bonkers     Feyadeen    Thu Aug 09, 2007 21:48 
 33   ........     Nodin    Thu Aug 09, 2007 23:24 
 34   Well done the lads     Jamie.S.    Sat Aug 11, 2007 16:47 
 35   Gerrys been there done it     Doire    Sat Aug 11, 2007 17:23 
 36   ...............     Nodin    Sat Aug 11, 2007 20:27 
 37   Reply to Doire     Q    Sat Aug 11, 2007 23:32 
 38   Response     Q    Sun Aug 12, 2007 05:48 
 39   DAWC welcomes all political views - as long as they oppose war and imperialism     Anti war and arms trade    Tue Aug 14, 2007 17:06 
 40   Send a Postacard to Peace Prisoner who Inspected Lebanon Bound Bombs at Prestwick!     Ciaron    Sat Aug 18, 2007 13:13 
 41   Some of you can not - or will not - handle the truth     Point Scorer    Thu Aug 23, 2007 18:49 
 42   predictable smears     Barry    Thu Aug 23, 2007 19:29 
 43   Baz the spin doc - still telling it how it is....apparently     Jed    Fri Aug 24, 2007 13:59 
 44   retort to what exactly ?     Barry    Fri Aug 24, 2007 15:14 
 45   Awite Bazza!     Jed    Sat Aug 25, 2007 13:33 
 46   criminal activities     Barry    Sat Aug 25, 2007 19:30 
 47   Jed - take a number and join the queue, start your cyber trial after the state finishes with them!     Anarcho Pacifist    Sun Aug 26, 2007 07:07 
 48   No force used in entrance to Raytheon     anti war and anti arms trade    Mon Aug 27, 2007 13:16 
 49   misinformation     Deanta    Wed Aug 29, 2007 23:28 
 50   Och Barry - I was expecting more venom than that     Jed    Fri Aug 31, 2007 00:21 
 51   Deanta Deanta Deanta     Jed    Fri Aug 31, 2007 00:38 
 52   nonsense     Deanta    Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:11 
 53   The Wars over, we've been Sold Out, get over it and give us peace     Sean Oglach    Fri Aug 31, 2007 16:18 
 54   More than a little unfair, Sean Oglach     socialist    Fri Aug 31, 2007 16:33 
 55   Response to Jed??????     Anarchist Pacifist    Fri Aug 31, 2007 16:44 
 56   The key question     MichaelY    Fri Aug 31, 2007 17:02 
 57   I could listen to Eamon all night, but sorry Socialist....     Sean Oglach    Fri Aug 31, 2007 17:04 
 58   Think Sean Oglach still wrong on McCann     Socialist    Sat Sep 01, 2007 18:17 
 59   Belated Response to Anarchist Pacifist     Jed    Mon Sep 03, 2007 21:41 
 60   Dia duit Deanta!     Jed    Mon Sep 03, 2007 21:59 
 61   jed     Deanta    Tue Sep 04, 2007 00:19 


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