22 August 2016

Disappearing the disappeared in Lebanon

Middle East Eye

On 30 August, the International Day of the Disappeared will once again be observed.
In Lebanon, where an estimated 17,000 persons are still missing on account of the “civil” war that ravaged the country - with plenty of outside help - from 1975 until 1990, it will mark yet another year of unanswered questions for family members of the victims.
Earlier this year, I spoke with one such family member: a silver-haired man named Abed, whose younger brother, Ahmad, joined the PLO in 1983 at the age of 17 and then promptly disappeared.
Over pineapple juice in the garden of his home in the tiny south Lebanese village of Maaroub, Abed recounted the decades of futile searches for Ahmad.
During one period, the family was strung along by an enterprising fellow involved in a missing persons scam industry; in exchange for several hefty payments, he produced what he claimed was an official paper from a prison in Aleppo, Syria, confirming that Ahmad was being held there.  
An eventual visit to the jail by a Lebanese politician destroyed that myth. Reports that Ahmad had been spotted at Lebanon’s notorious Roumieh Prison also proved unfounded and the family continued to allow for the possibility that he had been delivered into the hands of either the Syrians or the Israelis by some sympathetic Lebanese formation. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.