Letter of Marie Hadad addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations twenty-five years before the outbreak of civil war that ravaged Lebanon
Mr. Secretary General United Nations
Palais de Chaillot – Paris
I take heart in addressing this petition to you, emboldened by the appeal you made public, an appeal which was echoed in the public press and wire services, bidding the oppressed people—even particulars who have been victims of their own governments or the high authorities in their countries—to address themselves directly to you, so that justice may be rendered in their regard.
Since the United Nations Organization is in lieu of the Supreme Court for all countries, and even for individuals, as it has been so proclaimed to the whole world, I Marie Hadad, a Lebanese Citizen, born in Beirut, come here on behalf of all the Daheshists persecuted in Lebanon, to disclose the following:
A Lebanese citizen, who is innocent of all the charges and offenses brought against him, is being persecuted by the Lebanese Authorities, spearheaded by the President of the Republic himself, Mr. Bechara El-Khoury. The said President has acted illegally and in a tyrannical fashion, and this for personal reasons. He is the husband of my sister, and this nefarious kinship was the cause of the following events.
Six years ago or so, my husband and I made the acquaintance of Doctor Dahesh. His life, principles, and accomplishments have thrilled and fired our admiration right from the start. My husband and I were certainly not the first among his many adepts; nevertheless, our conviction, which was based on the cognizance of his personality and the experience of a long frequentation, was unshakable. Doctor Daheshis the figurehead of a Religious Doctrine, based on the Holy Scripture which preaches the Essential Unity of Religions. His main goal is to establish a universal fraternity. His task is to bring about truth and justice. His ken—which is an evangelical rebirth—is at par with the divine faculty and spirit of the prophets. He takes to task all those who made a profession out of religion just for the sake of personal gains. He denounces all abuses, hypocrisies, and mendacities. Furthermore, he is a writer who does the greatest of nations proud. Around him have gathered followers of all religions and nationalities, forming thus an intellectual elite that works in unison for the welfare of Humanity: physicians, writers, lawyers, businessmen, and what have you of professionals that are the backbone of a sound society.
Our mere espousing Doctor Dahesh’s doctrine irked vehemently the Catholic Clergy, which we had been part of so far, its aim being to keep fueling religious fanaticism in Lebanon in that to safeguard its control on its people and ensure its own profits. It also irked our family, who has been attached to this clergy since the night of time. Moreover, Doctor Dahesh is a firm believer in Democracy and its values; but that didn’t count in the eyes of the President of the Lebanese Republic, Bechara El-Khoury, and his wife Laure (my sister), and Michel Chiha (my brother), of the “Le Jour” newspaper in Beirut; for they deemed it a lese majesty to their stupid snobbism and ersatz aristocracy, should we adhere to Daheshism. Not only did they feel belittled by such adherence, but they also were afraid of the negative repercussions of the public opinion that might result from our union with such an influential man who preaches Unity of Religions in a country which is in desperate need of it, not to mention the necessity to fight fanaticism and all those negative forces upon which our confessional political system rests. They must have said to themselves: “Let us get rid of this man; for he might thwart our plans, being that his strength and arguments are extraordinary.”
That being the case, and on the instigation of my brother Michel Chiha—this conceited smug, imbued with Jesuitism (and to think that he was one of the framers of our Constitution, which was elaborated under the acquiescent auspices of Henry de Jouvenel), a scheme was concocted by the President of the Republic, Bechara El-Khoury, in cahoots with his Minister of Justice, Habib Abi-Chahla. At their behest, the General Security went on a prowl after Doctor Dahesh, in an effort to unearth any breach in his life that could help them bring charges against him. Corrupted witnesses were even bought into bringing false accusations against him, touching on “morale matters.” But nothing doing: they failed to reinforce their allegations by any sound proof. Aware that they could do nothing against Doctor Dahesh through the arm of the law, they hatched up a plot to bring about his demise through the arms of thugs.
Thus, on August 28, 1944, at eight o’clock in the morning, a gang of Lebanese Phalagists, all of them paid mercenaries, assaulted Doctor Dahesh at the entrance gate of his house, and this under the benevolent eyes of the police itself, who had surrounded the house since the morning. But Divine Providence bade it otherwise; for Doctor Dahesh was saved from a sure death.
The aggressors weren’t worried in the least about their criminal act, and the proof: it was Doctor Dahesh who was arrested! Now that Doctor Dahesh was in his trammels, the President of the Lebanese Republic Becahra El-Khoury, aided and abated by the law of excessive force (violating the Constitution as no one has done so far … for what more heinous crime is there than to deprive a citizen of his nationality!) stripped him of his Lebanese nationality by a simple dictatorial order, an order that was never sanctioned by law nor voted by the Members of Parliament. With this heinous act, Mr Bechara El-Khoury has clearly violated the Lebanese Constitution, and he did it as no one before him has done up to this date! I ask you: what’s more abominable than to destitute a citizen from his citizenship? Thereon Doctor Dahesh was imprisoned without any due process or passing judgment on his case: he was even refused any contact with his lawyer. After being ignominiously beaten (as can be seen in the documents I have joined to my letter this), he was thrown without any trial at the Turkish borders, with no identification papers on him and without a cent in his pocket—and this at a time when the Second World War was in full gear!
At that time, Mr. Riad Bey El-Solh, the current head of the Lebanese Delegation to the UN, was also head of the Lebanese Government. He, obligingly, submitted himself to the President’s will by rallying to his decree, and giving it his stamp of approval. What I find most astonishing, on the part of Riad Bey El-Solh, though—who, by the way, was once persecuted, exiled and sentenced to death [in absentia in the 1920s*] for his ideas on Liberty, ideas he still claims to champion up to this day—is that he sunk so deep in this injustice, an injustice which assails the very foundations of Civil Liberty, and does nothing to make it right. [*Read on Riad bey El-Solh or El-Sulh: Sulhstudied law at the University of Istanbul…]
And so it was that, without any trial, and in a despotic and arbitrary manner that goes against all existing laws and ethics, a Lebanese citizen has been stripped of his nationality and thrown out of his country; and this without any due process other than the will of the Head of State. And He was thrown out, in a time of war, at the borders of a foreign country, without affording him the possibility of finding refuge in any other country under the sky. It is a well-known fact that, in times of war, a foreign country has the right if not obligation to consider any foreign individual infiltrated through its border as a spy, and treat him accordingly. Such an individual is constantly exposed to being shot … or at least imprisoned and jolted about from one border to another. He is heartlessly thrust in a no-win and no-way-out situation, whereby he must wander aimlessly about, all the while being exposed to all kinds of dangers, and subjecting himself to the whims of fortuity as sole means of protection. Indeed, he is expected to stray endlessly about … unless a time should come when his own country, and this through the good-will of a new government, finds it in its heart to restore his citizenship.
Four years have already folded on this crime, during which time Doctor Dahesh has been drifting about stateless, from one frontier to another, with no right to return to his homeland.
Since then, we, the Daheshists, never stopped raising our indignations and protestations against the most shrieking injustice in memory. My conscience bade me to speak in his defense and prevailed upon me to act as Émile Zola did in the Dreyfus Affair. Alas, words were to no purpose in a country that has lost its soul! So I published a great number of “Black Books,” which were distributed all over the countries—in Lebanon, Europe, and America—as well as in the diplomatic Corps in Beirut, so that the world may be aware of this one-of-a-kind crime committed in Lebanon, and this in the Twentieth Century.
The publication of these Black Books embarrassed and disconcerted those very ones who had a bloody hand in the crime. In order to mitigate its effect on the general public, thus inveigle it, they had me committed to an asylum for the insane, on the pretence that I had lost all sense of reality. But the scandal was on them; for, to their utter confoundedness, a medical report was soon to expose their ill-intent, forcing them thus to set me free. If anything, this shameful act will bear grave consequences on its perpetrators in the future.
I was in fact imprisoned twice, as were many of Doctor Dahesh’s partisans, upon the orders of the President of the Republic, the husband of my sister [Laure El-Khoury], and this for my doggedness in defending a just and innocent man. A woman of my standing and in my situation, imprisoned in this country by her own family, for the sake of an ideal she upholds, and because she insists on defending the cause of an innocent man against a most flagrant act of despotism … is a scene never witnessed before in our part of the world; that’s why it drew a universal indignation. Albeit, I kept my poise and tried to remain serene despite it all; however, I never stopped writing and protesting! Great Spiritual Movements had always had to wade through such ugly phases of persecution and imprisonment, and they all came out of them victorious … so shall we!
The Head of State, Bechara El-Khoury, of this tiny little country that has newly acquired its independence, and which prides itself for being part of the United Nations … has acted as a dictator. The state servants and magistrates obey blindly his least desires for fear of being discharged of their functions. Such a crime in any other country more developed than ours would have brought about the downfall of the Government and its Head of State, not to mention that its perpetrator would have been brought to justice!
Never, and whatever regime it was subjected to, has Lebanon been faced with such internal anarchy; so much so that, should any newspaper bring the scandals of this regime to the attention of the public, it is automatically suspended! In Lebanon, consciences are bought cheap by the authorities, and are disabled by force.
Such people as ours that have allowed their Head of Government, Riad Bey El-Solh, and their Head of State, Bechara El-Khoury, to temper with the elections of May 25, 1947, do not deserve to be part of those who champion International Freedom. It is mystery to no one, and as the press has already proven, that these elections have been cynically tempered with, to secure a majority in the Parliament submissive to the President of the Republic, in order to assure his reelection in time. The most flagrant part is that they renewed his mandate one year before the expiration of his current mandate. This is to say that, one year from now, the President of the Republic would be automatically confirmed in his functions for a new period. Notwithstanding these underhanded practices, this election is illegal, because the majority of the Lebanese consider this Chamber of Deputies fraudulent.
The head of a religious doctrine, in the person of Doctor Dahesh, has been ignominiously persecuted. His closest adepts are victims of dubious individuals who assail individual liberty in its most sacred foundation … and this in a country that the Great Powers have granted independence, believing that it has attained a level of civilization worthy of such responsibility. As long as Lebanon, who boasts one million citizens in its ranks, citizens that appertain to twenty different Religions and Communities, is governed on a Confessional basis that keeps fueling a sharp religious fanaticism … it cannot lay claim to a civilization comparable to other nations. As things stand today, Lebanon has secured nothing of Civilization but a façade!
The Lebanese Delegates have well talked about freedom and sang it high in their speeches at the UN or other similar places; this won’t do. All they need to do is respect this freedom and the sacred “Human rights” it entails. I am totally flabbergasted by the stand of Mr. Charles Malek, the president of the Economical and Social Council at the UN; for he has the nerve, be it in Geneva or the UN, to talk, write, and reflect about “Human Rights” and Liberty … when he is fully aware that Lebanon is subservient to all servitudes you can imagine … and that Lebanon, or that “farm,” as the press endearingly refers to it in its columns … is shamefully exploited and solely for the sake of enriching only one family (brothers, brother-in-laws, allies, and partisans of president Bechara El-Khoury) to the detriment of the poor population. And to think that the outrageous scandals of this exploitation (hording, hashish smuggling, rare currencies, cement, furniture, enterprises, flour … you name it, they have a hand and foot in it …) have been reported in all the newspapers and everybody in the country knows about it.
Mr. Charles Malek, in a speech at the UN on October 8, 1948, brought to the floor a firm motion that a protocol concerning narcotics be adopted by the UN Assembly, and so too by the Non-Member States of this Assembly, and that such protocol should be enforced in Germany and Japan too. How shameful of Mr. Malek; for he pertinently knows that Lebanon has the monopoly over drug trafficking—Hashish in particular, which is grown in land-properties owned by the Lebanese Deputies themselves! … That Lebanon is the reputed and accredited provider of the Arab countries, Egypt in particular … That this big-scale smuggling operation is placed under the protection of the highest Lebanese authorities … That many scandals have broken out in Egypt in regard to this smuggling affair, in which the very son of Bechara El-Khoury (Kalil El-Khoury) was implicated. Mr. Malek knows very well that the utmost was done to nip those scandals in the bud in Egypt, not only once, but many times, so as not to smear some well-known Lebanese high personalities in public, and this for political reasons connected with the existing shaky rapport between the Arab Nations. Instead of making speeches on the subject of narcotics and the ill-effect this scourge has on the public, Charles Malek should rather work on reforming and weeding out his own country in regard to this touchy issue.
The diplomats of all countries in Lebanon have been documented on all that has been said so far.
Furthermore, the Daheshist Affair has been a widely discussed topic in the Press, both local and foreign, for the past five years. It kept amplifying every day till drawing international interest. Great responsibilities weigh, and heavily at that, on the Lebanese authorities, mostly on the Head of State Bechara El-Khoury, who has transgressed the laws of the land and violated the Constitution which he vowed to uphold when sworn into Office.
Every thing has an end … and justice will be fulfilled!
The Daheshists are determined to defend what is Right with the help of God and to the far extent of what is humanly possible. They would recoil before no fear, before no threat … and so will they prove it!
They firmly demand the restitution of Doctor Dahesh’s nationality. Duty obliges that they have recourse to your Supreme Court, and so do they abide by this due process, asking this Court to examine thoroughly this affair, which the Lebanese institutions has taken beyond the realm of decency. By conforming to the very rules it is heralding, your Court would be doing a great good to society and a humane deed to Justice. It will also prevent this conflict from expanding any further. Mark my words, Mr. Secretary: “This conflict is liable to bloody all of Lebanon later on, in the very manner Palestine has been bloodied, if no follow up is carried on your part concerning my accusatory petition.”
All things considered, it is utterly vain to count on earthly justice!
The world around me has proved to me that it is utterly futile to expect that Justice be carried in due and proper form; my hopes are high that you will prove me wrong, when it comes to earthly justice, of which you are the protector and guarantor!
But the United Nation Organization is called upon to defend the Rights of the Nations, and the individuals too … It is the Guardian of the Atlantic Charter, which is based on Individual Freedom (Freedom of thought, Freedom of belief and all the Freedoms that Doctor Dahesh himself upholds as a sacred right from God to Man …) of every single man, him included!
Therefore, I call upon its high competence, since it is the highest world authority which represents all powers as Supreme Justices who represent the Justice of God on earth.
Will it pronounce a sentence of Justice?
Should it fail to do so, then we must renounce every Justice down here.
P.S. To the attention of Mr. Charles Malek, Lebanon’s Delegate at the UN and Chairman of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Commission:
I read in the newspapers that the Commission headed by Mr. Charles Malek, has adopted the wording of the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights’ bill, which goes as follows:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience, and they should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Mr. Malek, while chairing this committee, which defends man’s sacred rights, knows very well that in his country freedoms are not respected … that the Lebanese Head of State, whom he represents [Bechara El – Khoury], has conspired against these very freedoms, and violated the Constitution when his personal interests were at stake, as was the case concerning Doctor Dahesh! By delivering an address on Human Rights (freedom of belief, thought, fraternity, etc.), Mr. Malek acts contrary to what he professes. Were he to be a man of his word, he would have refused to chair such a commission, which in reality should belong to the delegate of a wholly civilized country, wherein these Human Rights are duly respected.
To be true to himself and to others, he ought to have, all the while refusing this chairmanship, owned that his conscience would not be at ease, should he remain Lebanon’s delegate; that his conscience does not permit him to be part of this Commission, on account the Head of the Lebanese State—whom he represents—has committed a constitutional crime that most backward and barbaric countries dare not commit today: he stripped an innocent Lebanese citizen of his nationality without any trial, and then threw him, in a time of war, on a foreign border without a passport. He did it for reasons of religious fanaticism, because his relatives had become followers of this Lebanese citizen!
Mr. Malek also knows that his protector Michel Chiha, my brother, and brother-in-law of the President of the Lebanese Republic, Bechara El-Khoury, was the primary instigator of this crime; and that it was thanks to this Michel Chiha that he was appointed Minister to Washington, despite the opposition of a majority of the Lebanese people who are aware of the dregs of their country’s politics.
Had Mr. Malik spoken the truth on this matter, he would then have deserved to be part of this Commission that deals with “Human Rights,” and even to chair it. To have us believe in his good faith and the purity of his conscience, we need more than a simple photograph of him holding the gavel of the presidency in his hand, a photograph which he made sure to publish in the front page of the newspaper. This brings to mind the fable of “Monkey the Judge and the Two Cats, in which two cats, after stealing some cheese, come to share it with the monkey.” Mr. Malek is in a false position that equity disavows. Nor is he more just than the monkey who failed to do justly by the two cats. Thus Mr. Malek is the reason why his protector is justly maligned and confounded.
Mr. Malek is fully aware of what is happening in Lebanon, which he represents in the UN. He should not be proud of it. He certainly reads the Lebanese newspapers; so, here are some excerpts from two major Lebanese dailies (in French language) issued in Beirut, which will refresh his memory and prove to everybody that Lebanon is backward and that its leaders commit crimes against the liberties and “Man’s Rights.” A blatant case in point: Doctor Dahesh’s case!
Excerpt of the Lebanese Press: 1 (Bechara El-Khoury’s Lebanon is badly governed)
Journal “Le Jour,” dated August 20, 1948
To all intents and purposes, Lebanon is badly governed and poorly represented: It is badly represented because it is badly governed … They try to have us believe that the Government respects parliamentary rules and manages the public affairs in the spirit of the Constitution! They would also have us believe that a disorderly and diverse coalition is qualified to redress the situation!
When they see us go over the top, as we often do, against a certain way of governing, it is for the love of a Just Freedom, and a Democracy that respects itself. We are loath to find, as so many Lebanese do, that power in our neck of the woods often dons a regressive Ottoman garb, unconsciously inspired, or so it seems, from a long-gone yet not forgotten past.
For us, the ideal is, and shall remain, to instill as far as possible in the Lebanese citizen, despite the disparity in the national elements, a modicum of dignity and self-respect. We are well aware that years shall pass before we reach that level of maturity in our civic and political life. Of all the schools we are still in want, it is the one of character that we would like to see come to the fore and take the first seat.
Copyright © 2009 Georges H. Chakkour – Tous droits réservés