10. Oktober 2012 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Libanon: 72 Flüchtlinge und MigrantInnen angegriffen · Kategorien: Nicht zugeordnet · Tags: , ,

Now Lebanon

Neben Griechenland und Israel: Nun auch rassistische Kampagnen im Libanon?

In Jeitawi, little empathy for migrants

Three days after the Lebanese army raids against foreign migrants in Jeitawi, more and more details have come to light. Apparently the military’s operation was an act of collective punishment after mountingcomplaints by residents in the neighborhood about harassment and other disturbances.

According to a Human Rights Watch report published Wednesday, on Sunday night the Lebanese army raided three houses in the area. For several hours, they attacked at least 72 male workers from Syria, Egypt and Sudan with broomsticks and “viciously kicked and beat them.”

There was no substantial interrogation. Instead, the soldiers accused the Syrians of harassing girls and women. Nevertheless, no charges were brought forward and no related arrests were made.

“We are glad that the army has beaten up those guys,” said Cesar, a man whose grocery store is located in Jeitawi between two of the apartments that were raided. “They come to my shop, trying to steal. They are harassing our girls and beating up people.”

Jeitawi, a small neighborhood in the heart of the mostly-Christian Ashrafiyeh, is a maze of narrow roads, apartments and small stores. Family ties are tight and many have been living there for generations. For years, Syrian workers have been renting apartments in the area. With the war in Syria intensifying in recent months, the number of Syrians has ignificantly grown.  With a typical salary of $200 to $300 a month, they tend to live several people to a room—a practice looked down upon by many locals. “By now there are more Syrians here than Lebanese,” said Cesar.

Recent weeks saw a spike in reports of sexual harassment in the area. Like 62-year old Cesar, many people in the neighborhood point the finger at the foreign laborers. “My son’s daughter was harassed by Syrians. And then my son was sent to jail, because he beat them up,” Cesar said.

A customer at Cesar’s shop said that the neighborhood is preparing a petition to evict the Syrians from the house they are renting. “All the people in the neighborhood complain about their presence,” he said.

Sebouh Mekhjayan, an aide to Ashrafieh MP Michel Pharoun, runs an office where he takes complaints from the neighborhood. The waiting room is packed with people. “If you have ten laborers in one home, they create problems,” he said. “Often some Lebanese guys want to fight back, but we prevent them and send mediators. If this doesn’t help we inform security forces.”

Other people in Jeitawi would not acknowledge that an army operation had taken place or that there were any problems with foreign laborers. “I haven’t heard of anything,” the owner of a hairdresser shop in the area said before returning to work.

Syrians who have long lived in the area, many running their own businesses, complain about the changing sentiment in the neighborhood. “I don’t feel comfortable here anymore,” said one man who preferred to go by the pseudonym Abu Salim. “Next time the army comes they might implicate me.” Many Syrians who worked for local businesses have lost their jobs in recent days. Others went into hiding, fearing another raid. “There were also people that night who tried to stop the soldiers,” added Abu Salim. “But the military yelled at them and sent them away.”

The military has denied that the operations took place, and since the raid on Sunday, military intelligence has repeatedly prevented members of the press from talking to local Syrian workers or filming the building where the raid took place.

“The Syrians are not part of our community. This is like a small village. Many families live here since their grand-grand-grandfathers,” said Cesar before returning to his business. “If the Syrians stay here we expect a lot more problems in the future.“

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