Beirut- Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Saturday accused Syria, Iran and local affiliates of launching an onslaught against Premier Fouad Siniora's government to abort the establishment of an international tribunal
to try suspects in the assassination of his late father, former PM Rafik Hariri and related crimes.
Hariri, who heads the March 14 majority alliance, said "it is no coincidence that the current onslaught by Syria, Iran and their local affiliates in Lebanon against the democratically elected government and the March 14 Independence Movement is precisely aimed at aborting the establishment of the International Tribunal."
Addressing a conference by Socialist International at Beirut's Bristol Hotel in support of the March 14 alliance, Hariri said: "indeed, the will of the Lebanese people has been subverted and corrupted throughout the past 30 years, not only through direct military presence by Syria and Iranian affiliates, but also and more importantly by continuous political assassinations designed to submit the free choice of the Lebanese to terrorist extortion and coercion by regional powers."
He explained that "these assassinations have targeted Statesmen, writers, clerics and opinion leaders, throughout the past 30 years. Their victims all had one thing in common: they all opposed Syrian hegemony and worked for the unity of all Lebanese to achieve a free, democratic, independent and sovereign nation. The crimes all had one thing in common: impunity."
The series of assassination started with an attempt to kill Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh by a booby-trapped car bomb in Beirut on Oct.1, 2004. He suffered serious wounds that did not prevent him from maintaining his cabinet post.
Former PM Hariri was killed by a powerful blast that targeted his motorcade in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.
The latest of such crimes targeted Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel who was killed Nov. 21.
Hariri noted that "the assassins brutally killed Lebanon's leaders, ruthlessly submitted the will of the Lebanese, and walked free to enjoy the political, material and criminal rewards of their evil enterprise, no questions asked."
He stressed that "the International Tribunal unfolding under their eyes today, by Resolution of the U.N. Security Council, is the first expression of the will of the Arab and International communities to hold these terrorist political assassins accountable to some form of Justice."
Hariri said that establishing the international tribunal "is a vital, crucial and indispensable condition for democracy and its survival to have any hope in Lebanon, and indeed, in this part of the world."
He warned that "if a brutal, terrorist dictatorship can murder in broad daylight a historical figure of Lebanon's democratic rebirth, then decapitate the leaders of Lebanon's independence and democratic movement, including five members of parliament elected by the free will of the people, then attempt to topple Lebanon's government on live television broadcast via satellite in every home of the Arab world, and walk away with impunity, then the message will be clear: Democracy will never blossom, let alone grow in this region."
Hariri told the participants that "although you may find among us here a sad collection of Fathers, Sons, Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Widows of victims, it is of the utmost importance that you understand, and through you, your constituencies, that this is not about personal revenge. It is about justice, democracy and the universal ideals of freedom, human rights, moderation and modernity that cut across our movement and yours from the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean where democracy was born to the farthest shores of the globe where it has flourished."
He was referring to the participation in the conference by ex-President Amine Gemayel, father of the slain industry minister, and Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt, son of slain Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, and relatives of other assassinated Lebanese figures.
Sources: Naharnet, AP, LBC
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