Lebanon refuses to renew visa of a Syrian opposition activist


A Syrian opposition activist who was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday that Lebanese authorities had ordered him to leave.

The former Syrian MP Mamoun Humsi who was granted asylum on May 26 by UNHCR said: ” I went to the General Security bureau today to collect my passport, only to find the statement ‘to travel by July 20, 2010’ was stamped on it.”

Humsi was referring to the stamp of the Lebanese Internal security.

Humsi said that he went to the General Security bureau 2 months ago to renew his residency visa as is the case every six month but the way he was treated made him feel that things have changed in Lebanon . He added “my only option is to return to Syria “, where he “will certainly be jailed” for his political beliefs.

Humsi, 55, was arrested along with others in Syria in 2001 and jailed for five years after a short-lived “Damascus spring” of liberalization when President Bashar al-Assad first ascended to power 10 years ago.

Humsi was convicted of plotting “to change the constitution through illegal means.”

He was released in January 2006 and has since lived in Lebanon with his wife and his youngest 2 sons.

UNHCR deputy representative to Lebanon Jean Paul Cavalieri confirmed that Humsi was accorded refugee status but said he “could not comment to third parties about individual cases.”

Humsi said he went to the UNHCR office to inform them about the situation …they took photo copies of my passport , but did not tell me what action they will take.

In response to a question Humsi said ” I do not see a reason for expelling me other than the recent Lebanese policy of openness towards Syria”, adding: “Perhaps Lebanon should now amend its constitution and laws, that have made it an oasis of freedom and democracy in the Arab world.”



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