Buried under – Nowlebanon


“Where is the investigation?”

I, like Monika, Lokman’s sister Rasha al Ameer and her mother Salma Merchak, get asked the same question over and over. “Where is the investigation?” I navigated my response both friendly and frankly, depending on which side of the bed I wake up on.

Citizens cannot do justice. It is not the victims’ responsibility to demand an inquiry and an investigation, much less an interrogation and a conviction. This is the role of the state, not lawyers without the tools to confront our system, nor politicians without an agency.

The setup we all depend on to live a reasonable life, without fear of losing loved ones to violence, is hijacked, ensuring that repeat killings turn into commemorations that criminals behind bars. The sovereignty we lost in 1970 and could not regain under Syrian tutelage in the 1990s has made us a nation held hostage, the last militia in this country maintaining a still crippling status quo.

Lokman Slim’s family cannot do justice. It is not their task. Grief and bereavement are a private matter, while judicial autonomy is the domain of the state. And every time the future of this so-called country is discussed, in every conversation between experts; in each panel of experts from think tanks and academics; in every outlet where the local and foreign press are looking for stories to sell and sound bites; every moment we talk about why this country is failing, our lost foundation must remain front and center.

Lokman Slim’s family cannot do justice. It is not their task. Grief and bereavement are a private matter, while judicial autonomy is the domain of the state.

The economy, corruption, bigotry, social pact reform, decades if not centuries of talk about colonialism…even a measure of historical revisionism is acceptable. But turning away from sovereignty is a fool’s game. And this reluctance should not extend to diplomats when referring to accountability.

Why am I taking the conversation there? Because there are no answers to Hezbollah in Lebanon, from protesters in the streets demanding change for seventeen years, to reform-minded individuals entering the corridors of power. Elections will not erase this existential problem. Neither will change the system from sectarian to secular power sharing.

We are not a state born in error, despite all the shortcomings that power-sharing by consensus and consociationalism-rule by compromise bring to society.

We are a defeated state. And reform is essential, not an overnight overhaul ignoring the collateral political violence brought to this country.

The answer to ending our violent nightmare is – sadly – ​​beyond our borders. Lebanon’s collapse overlaps with Iran’s security interests and has nothing to do with sociological or anthropological factors or intercommunal conflict resolution efforts.

A recent World Bank report that highlights the neglect of political elites, endemic corruption and waste of time lexicon without facing the central problem selects the story. And despite the emotion and eloquence offered at the residence of the French ambassador two weeks ago during the presentation of a Franco-German human rights prize to Monika Borgmann, no diplomat uttered a word against the assassins of her late husband.

In my discussions with various officials who claim to communicate with the Iranians, there is an obvious reluctance to defend the case of Lebanon. And if comfort is allowed in the search for a familiar pain, it is by accepting that international actors avoid subjects that do not concern them.

Beirut – and the capitals of the region – are not special.

Budapest tried to overthrow Moscow’s military and security influence in the 1950s for weeks without success. Prague followed a similar course in the 1960s and was crushed within days. Warsaw began to demonstrate in Solidarity in the 1980s on a weekly basis, later joined by East Berliners, against their status quo.

Despite the emotion and eloquence offered at the residence of the French ambassador two weeks ago during the presentation of a Franco-German human rights prize to Monika Borgmann, no diplomat pronounced a word against the murderers of her late husband.

Ongoing protests and attempts by activists across Central and Eastern Europe that challenged the Soviet Union’s security parameters ultimately ended in repressions and assassinations.

Countries opposed to Moscow’s policies have launched the same type of pleas alongside offers done with this diet. The same goes for relations with Tehran.

Nothing changed until late November 1989, when a Soviet leader decided to disengage from the troubles beyond his borders, thus turning the page on half of a continent’s political future. The same week as the Taif Agreement sealed our own fate, with our own sovereign parameters set by Syria. And more recently, Iran.

Lokman Slim, like my father before him and the long list of journalists, intelligence officers, politicians, diplomats and all victims of political violence face familiar ground. The heroes of the Soviet sphere of yesterday are ours today.

Monika Borgmann, after receiving her human rights award from the French ambassador and in her eloquent manner, spoke about the Lokman assassination in an area less than a kilometer from a UNIFIL post administered by the French military, intended to implement UNSC Resolution 1701 – a resolution designed to dislodge Hezbollah’s armed position from southern Lebanon. She also told a representative of the German Embassy that a united Germany (Monika’s native country) could not have overcome the wounds inflicted by two world wars, division and decades of Cold War without having sovereign tools needed to shape their destiny and reform.

His life is a story that reflects the two chapters of a common story.

And alongside Lokman’s own work on collective memory, the story moves slowly. His family – like the victims before – will have to wait.

The Iranian regime will evolve and change. One day we’ll wake up with theirs Gorbachev changing course. Not one Khatami Where Rouhani with a facade of presidential authority but an IRGC army commander preferring disengagement to death and endless disorder.

Only then will our nightmare end with reformists in the driving seat, rather than buried beneath it.

Ronnie Chatah’s hosts The Banyan of Beirut podcast, a series of long-form storytelling and conversational episodes that reflect all that is modern Lebanese history. He also leads the WalkBeirut tour, a four-hour narration of Beirut’s rich and troubled past. He is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @thebeirutbanyan.

The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOW.

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