Activist says Hezbollah involved in abduction of Syrian opposition in Lebanon

November 8, 2011
November 08, 2011 02:05 PM.

The Daily Star.

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and the PKK are involved in the disappearance of members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon, a human rights activist told local media outlets, adding that 12 Syrians have disappeared in the country since Sept.20.

"Hezbollah and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party have surveyed several Lebanese areas looking for Syrian opposition members, Hezbollah has surveyed Beirut’s southern suburbs where many cases of disappearances have been reported,” Nabil Halabi, head of the Lebanese Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said earlier this weekend.

He added that citizens loyal to Hezbollah have assisted the party in abductions.

When contacted by The Daily Star, Hezbollah press office said they had not released a statement on the report.

Halabi also accused the Tashnaq party in Lebanon of asking the PKK to blackmail and threaten Syrian Kurds in Bourj Hammoud and Nabaa and have provided the Syrian Embassy with information about the Syrian Kurds in these areas.

Last week, Future Movement MP Khaled Daher accused the Tashnaq party of expelling Syrian Kurds from Bourj Hammoud, especially those who had participated in demonstrations in front of the Syrian Embassy in Hamra.

Tashnaq MP Hagop Pakradounian denied the allegations against his party to the daily newspaper, saying: "We have never, for a day, been agents [working] for the Syrians or anybody else, our loyalty is to Lebanon and our patriotism is not up for bargain.”

Halabi also said that since Sept. 20, 12 Syrian opposition members have disappeared in Lebanon and that the kidnapping and arrest cases that his group was monitoring was based on testimonies of relatives and friends of opposition members.

"We have been informed that during the last three weeks, the Lebanese authorities have arrested four Syrian opposition members, two of them were arrested at Rafik Hariri International airport when they were on their way to Saudi Arabia on suspicion of arms smuggling into Syria,” Halabi said.

"One of them is called Mohammad Shaker Bshalah and the second is Ammar al-Adib who was formerly arrested by Hezbollah but later released after [the party] interrogated him for several days.”

Halabi also said that one Syrian opposition member, who is also Kurdish, was arrested at the airport, but added that General Security had denied the arrest. The fourth man, Mohammad Adwan, was arrested for not having legal identification documents allowing permission into the country.

Hundreds of Syrians, including members of the opposition, have crossed into Lebanon seeking refuge from the unrest in their home country. Most of the refugees do not have IDs as many have used illegal crossings.

The U.N. said Tuesday that 3,500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in a crackdown launched by Damascus earlier in the year to quell protests calling for the departure of President Bashar Assad.

Syrian authorities deny targeting civilians, blaming the deaths on "armed gangs.”

Since the uprising began, the Lebanese and Syrian armies have strengthened their presence along the countries’ border to thwart arms smuggling into Syria, which has also resulted in the decline of refugees entering the country.

The activist, who has previously reported kidnappings of Syrians in Lebanon, said that such arrests and kidnappings of Syrians violated laws governing the presence of refugees in a host country. The laws he said stipulated that Syrian refugees in host countries could only be arrested if they violated the laws of the country.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati confirmed in an interview Friday that opposition figures from Syria had been kidnapped in Lebanon, but described the cases as isolated incidents.

In an interview with BBC's Arabic service, Mikati said that the kidnappings had occurred before he formed his Cabinet on June 13.

Last month, head of the Internal Security Forces Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi released reports implicating the Syrian Embassy and members of the ISF of involvement in the kidnapping of Syrian opposition members.

However, the embassy has denied the accusation.

The Daily Star

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