My brother, Attorney Edward Noon,
May God protect you!
My brother, what happened to me, and which I am about to relate to you, falls more in the realm of the Greek Legends!
Whoever reads my story is bound to take me for an artful story-teller, so much the inhumane afflictions I was subjected to at the hands of the Lebanese Government are beyond belief, and this at an age of enlightenment and freedom of thought, an age that prides itself for the respect of human rights and strict enforcement of civil and social laws!
Hear then my true story (as I lived it in flesh and blood), a story which I prevail upon you to relay to the public opinion and concerned authorities, so that I be reinstated in my rights, which I was usurped of by those who thought nothing of putting me to death, just for the sake of fulfilling their evil objectives. But God bade it otherwise, for I survived in spite of them!
On the eve of September 9, 1944, the following men came to “Habs Al Ramel” [“Sand’s Prison,” a prison in Beirut where Doctor Dahesh was momentarily incarcerated, pending an order from the Lebanese Government, till they decide about his fate]: the Chief of Police, Arif Ibrahim; the Chief of the Secret Service, Omar Tabbarah; and the Police Commissioner of Al-Burj district [a region in the old section of the downtown area of Beirut, known also as “Cannons’ Square or Martyrs’ Square”], Mohammad Ali Fayad. They asked Sergeant Kaisar, who was on duty that night, to apprise me that a release warrant has been issued in my regard, instructing the prison’s administration to discharge me, on the provision that I divulged this news to no prisoner, nor to any other guard on duty that night. And effectively, Kaisar sent for me to his office and relayed this message to me, cautioning me against telling it to anybody else.
Once I had ear of his cautionary request I became very suspicious, and I let him know it, saying: “If what you’re saying is true, then why all this discretion; and why can’t I leave right away?”
He answered me, with some hesitance: “Because this release warrant in question is not yet in our possession.”
I asked him: “Then how come you know about it; and through whom?”
He readily cut me off out of hand, saying to me: “This shouldn’t be any of your concern! The truth of the matter is that certain individuals are going to come at ten o’clock tonight, to take you back home. But make sure you keep this information to yourself, and let no other prisoner know about it.”
I answered him: “Know for certain, Kaisar, that, as long as both Dr. Georges Khabsa and Mr. Edward Noon are not present here, I wouldn’t take one step outside this prison. When I leave in their company, only then I’d believe in the veracity of your words. Otherwise, should anybody else come to take me home, it would only be a plot to get rid of me…”
On my way to my cell, I was in a state of apprehensiveness most severe. And it calmed me none to know that he had insisted, and more than once, that I kept this whole affair “between us” as he put it. Naturally, once back in my cell, I informed the other prisoners about it, telling them: “A dangerous conspiracy is being concocted against my life. They claim they would readily set me free, providing I kept this matter under lid. What they are trying to do is hide their real intent behind a phony discretion. All they are after is to liquidate me with a bullet in the head, once I am outside—or rather, once they would have pushed me outside; for then they could falsely claim: he tried to escape from prison and, in fact, he succeeded in doing so… That’s why we were forced to shoot him down. As such, they would have covered their crime under the veil of ineluctability. I want you all to know about it, just in case it happened; for then it would be your duty to inform my family and friends, so that they report to the public opinion the details of this odious crime…”
It didn’t take long for Kaisar to have wind that I have informed the other detainees of the plot, and he wasn’t very happy about it. Wasting no time, he, in his turn, warned the Chief of Police and his two companions that the secret was out, and that other prisoners were also on it. They too weren’t happy about that denouement, for now they couldn’t prevent it from spreading among all the other prisoners in Habs Al Ramel.
At ten o’clock that evening, the door of my cell was unlocked. Kaisar, accompanied by two policemen in civilian clothes, was at the door. He came close to me and said: “They are waiting outside for you to take you home.”
I refused flatly to go with them; I knew it was naught but a plot to get rid of me. But they insisted, outrightly. And though I was still not convinced, I asked to see the warrant ordering my release, and I read it …
Then, against my will, I was taken to the Prison’s warden. There, I saw waiting for me those I have already mentioned: the Chief of Police, together with Omar Tabbarah and Mohammad Ali Fayad. I asked them to send for my friends. They refused and told me: “We’ll be the ones to take you home.”
We first went to my residence, which to my great surprise was surrounded by a great number of armed policemen. From there, we proceeded to the Georges Hadad’s house, the brother-in-law of your old friend [an allusion to the President Bechara El-Khoury], so that I could take some money from my sister Antoinette [who at this time was staying with the Hadad’s together with Doctor Dahesh’s mother], since they informed me, and at the last minute, that they were to take me first to Tripoli [city by the sea, north of Beirut], where I had to remain under guard surveillance for a period of one month, after which they would bring me back to Beirut.
When we reached Georges Hadad’s residence, Mohammad Ali Fayad rang the doorbell. My sister Antoinette peered from one of the windows above. I called her and asked her to come down because I wanted to speak to her. She ran down the stairs, with Magda, the daughter of Georges Hadad, at her heels. No sooner did Mohammad Ali Fayad saw the two girls going down the stairs than he shoved me back with force. When I tried to extricate myself from his violent grip [so he could embrace his sister who had thrown herself in his arms, all in tears], a terrible fight ensued [between Magda Hadad and the two policemen who wanted to prevent her too from reaching Doctor Dahesh], at which time Omar Tabbarah shot, in the air, four or five bullets from his handgun.
Then suddenly [and without any warning], Mohammad Ali Fayad hit me [with the back of his handgun] hard on the head. I fell to the ground at once and lost conscience, so terrible was the blow this wicked, savage beast hit me with.
The strange part was that, although I could distinctly hear the noises, shrieks, and exchange of words of the crowd around me, still I could not move a muscle or say a word. My tongue was tied so violent was the blow I received on my head from Mohammad Ali Fayad.
At the end, they put my hands in shackles, dragged me to the car of the Chief of the Criminal Police, and threw me in.
And I swear to you, O my brother, by the Lord of Heaven and the pure blood of Jesus Christ, that during the whole trip—from the moment they threw me in the car till we arrived at the Police station of Al-Burj—this miscreant beast of Mohammad Ali Fayad didn’t stop one moment from punching me violently on the face, my mouth, my chest, my head, and all over my body, and all that while he kept insulting and cursing me with most vicious and obscene terms, as I had never heard of anything so despicable in my life.
When we finally arrived at the Central Police’s station, which you know well, Ali Fayad ordered me to get out of the car. I tried to comply, but I couldn’t move: the severe punches I was subjected to had totally incapacitated me. Presently, [rather than helping him out] the three monsters started to hit me again with their fists. Then Mohammad Ali Fayad kicked me hard with his feet, with all the force he could pucker, to force me out of the car. I tried to command some sort of force to stand up, but to no avail; on the contrary, I fell exhausted on the floor and couldn’t take one step. Scores of policemen were standing guard, lined up on every step of the police station’s stairs, as if I was a dangerous criminal who could still run away. Forthwith they carried me to the Secret Service special room which, as you know, is adjacent to the office of Omar Tabbarah.
And there, yes there, this miscreant of Mohammad Ali Fayad grabbed a thick whip and began to flagellate me with horrendous severity; I felt as though my soul was being snatched from my body on every blow. My skin was lacerated and ripped apart; my whole body was drenched with blood. Still, that didn’t stop that brute; he stopped his flogging only when his body was drenched with sweat and he began to pant like an exhausted ox that has been plowing the field day and night.
Only then did he [Mohammad Ali Fayad] let go his whip. Omar Tabbarah readily picked it up and went on to fustigate with blows of a greater ferocity. And when he, in his turn, became too tired [from trying too hard to impress Doctor Dahesh with his rabid determination], the whip changed hand, but to pass to another gaoler waiting there, then another, then another … till I started to think that their sole purpose was to have me give up the ghost right there under the blows of their whip.
In the end, Arif Ibrahim, this most-noble and well-bred Director of the Beirut Police, who is endowed with high morals, drew closer to me and, with his might and main, slapped me on the face, and for several times. Blood started to gush from my mouth and I lost conscience again. I felt the Earth turning around me—or was it the other way around? All I know is that the walls of the prison, if not the whole world, were turning around me … and everything fainted to my eyes.
When I regained conscience—which was induced by splashing me with cold water, my gaolers indulged themselves with an encore of flagellation and police brutality (such as our brave Lebanese policemen are so famous for). Soon afterward, they carried me back to the car, while lashing me with sordid insults that not even vulgar thugs are capable of coming up with. And to think these insults came from the mouth of the honorable, noble and well-born Mohammad Ali Fayad, the Police Commissioner of the Al Burj district—this man who supposedly is in charge of overseeing the good morals and ethics of the people, and maintaining public peace and security! Oh what a disgrace! Shame on you, O Nation, that you’d be afflicted with such barbaric torturers in your ranks!
And in the car, yes in the car, O my brother Edward, I was kept in shackles. To my right sat a secret agent named Abd Al-Salam Itani, and to my left another secret agent, Sezack Setrack. In the driver’s seat was Mohammad Al-Makki, the son of Sheik Hassan Al-Makki, who is also a secret agent. Next to him sat Commissioner Omar Tabbarah.
Here too, sad to say, my brother Edward, Omar produced his whip and went on to hit me while the car was on its way to Tripoli. I was in such excruciating pain, so I told him: “Isn’t it a disgrace to whip a man who has done wrong to nobody, and against whom no alleged evidence has been procured by the Attorney General or the Secret Service? And let us suppose, God forbid, that such an allegation can be duly substantiated against me, there is still a due process that the Justice Court is obligated to follow, if it wants to press charges against me in compliance with the laws of the land. Only then they may sentence me to prison. But to beat me, flagellate me, and torture me like this: these methods are used only by barbaric and not civilized people.” It was as if my words were a good excuse for him to resume his whipping. Two blows of his whip landed on my heart; and when I thought he had finished whipping me, another strong blow fell on my left hand, causing a great damage to three of my fingers. And again I lost conscience.
When along the road I recovered some senses, I noticed that the car … (To be followed soon …)
Copyright © 2009 Georges H. Chakkour – Tous droits réservés