Hello mes amis!
I hope you are all well.
As you may or may not know the convoy started off with great success and momentum. We had 50 cars and well over 100 people join our convoy and were prepared to journey to the south depite a deliberate attack on an unarmed convoy less than 12 hours before our own. The energy was amazing, and for me, the best part was the look on the faces of the lebanese people as we drove by - 50 cars with Lebanese flags driving through beirut and through town after town. people came out and waved and cheered and showed peace signs in support. Their pride was infectous. It was a burning hot day and we were handed cold water by merchants who refused to take any money and prayed for are safety and the success of our mission.
Once our convoy was stopped and there was no negotiating with the ministry, we took our backpacks and aid and attempted to walk on foot past the military and continue to the south, but we were also prevented from continuing any further.
unfortunately, a call came from the ministry of interior and informed the army not to let us pass, althought every other car was allowed to pass, military and civilian alike. draw from this what you will - quite obvviously the decision to not let us path was highly political, but we have choosen not take take this position - there is no need for internal lebanese struggle ontop of everything else.
if you've seen any negative press - it was unfortunate that a few individuals were extremely emotional and wished to confron the lebanese army that was preventing our passage.
I just stopped writing you for 20 minutes as about 6 explosions were just heard near by. on the eve of this supposed ceasefire, the attacks continue with more intensity as Isreal, I assume, attempts to try and take out as many underground caches of Hezbollah - the problem there are civilians above them...
What has come out of yesterday is not only a ton of positive press coverage about the action spreading all over Lebanon and many parts of the world, but most importantly - more people have been inspired to join and find out what else they can do to stand in solidarity and work towads national unity. we are being very careful as many of these actions may have different places for internationals, and certainly all of them must be lebanese driven. but they have asked for our asisstance and we are moving forward with the campaign, working to strengthen the campaign and it's membership, and concrete actions.
what everyone is talking about? the fear of internal tensions riping the country apart.
I have other updates for you, but i just wanted to let you know that i am fine and give you an update on yesterday's actions. below is the release we sent out on the action.
I hope you all are well,
Lebanon: An Open Country for Civil Resistance
Regarding the August 12th Planned Convoy to the South
August 13, 2006
Rasha Salti: 03 970855 Wadih Al Asmar: 70 950780
Contact for internationals: Huwaida Arraf: 70 974452
Beirut, August 13- Marking the passing of a month on Israel�s war unleashed on Lebanon, we, members of civil society that had mobilized from the first days to aid and support the victims of this aggression, launched this Campaign of Civil Resistance. In addition to marking the one-month anniversary of this latest Israeli war against Lebanon, and the anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, (passed August 12, 1949), on August 12, communities around the world protested against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon.
Here, in Lebanon, the first convoy of civilians was to depart on August 12 to the south, whose final destination, pending questions of security on the ground, was to reach Nabatiyeh. The mission of the convoy, as the mission of the campaign, is to mark a stand in solidarity and unity of all the people of Lebanon, to break the siege on the south, and to defy Israel�s policy of forced expulsions, terror and organized massacres of civilians.
We convened on Martyrs� Square at 7:00 am on August 12th morning. More than 200 people were gathered, supported by more than 100 participants from 19 countries. Fifty cars, carrying more than 250 rations of food and medicines, with more than 15 representatives from the local and international media, proceeded on the path to the south.
The convoy could not reach its destination because it was forcibly stopped at a passageway, located between the site where the bridge and a gas station were shelled recently, in the coastal village of Na�meh by the Lebanese Internal Security, on orders from the Ministry of Interior.
Despite citing concern for our security, the checkpoint at Na�meh remained open for everyone else, including other convoys.
As members of civil society, while our government�s concern for our safety is appreciated, we disagree with our government�s missive. As members of the civil society organizing for civil resistance against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, we specifically chose not to protest against the Lebanese government�s decision; our struggle is first and foremost against the Israeli war on our people and our country, and we stand for unity among all Lebanese, embodying plural political perspectives.
Nevertheless, we would like to clarify several points. (1) The Lebanese security forces did have notification of our intention to go to the south. Our convoy was widely publicized in the local and international press, and days before conversations were held with members of the Lebanese security forces. (2) We were organizing, and continue to be organizing, acts of civilian resistance, and not acts of civilian suicide. We were aware of the risks of our action, and we were continuing to study the situation on the ground even during the trip. Our allegiance was not to a particular geographical destination, but to the solidarity with our people and the rejection of Israeli dictates. Furthermore, it is ultimately not a question of risk, but one of choice; Israel has the choice to target and bomb known civilian convoys or not. (3) August 12 marks the launching of this campaign of civil resistance. We will continue to resist aggression until a semblance of justice is achieved, and we will continue to build for practical solidarity after the aggression ceases. (4) Our convoy was successful in gathering a significant number of committed, serious people to express solidarity with Lebanese and with Lebanon.
We are invigorated by the serious, grassroots amount of support that we have inspired. We will build on this support and work towards committed, long-term solidarity with our people in the south and throughout our beloved country.