Yes to Hikmat Deeb, Yes to freedom
By: Elias Bejjani


I, the exiled Lebanese, displaced from my country, son of Kahale the bastion of pride and resistance, a strong believer in my rights as a citizen to choose those who represent my national aspirations for a future Lebanon, hereby declare my support for the engineer Hikmat Deeb and call on on all my relatives, friends, and acquaintances in the homeland to support his election bid and vote for him.

To vote for Hikmat Deeb is a civilized and peaceful act of rejection of the status quo of the occupation in all its facets and ramifications. To vote for Hikmat Deeb is to join the chorus of free men who shout a loud NO, because we will not kneel, we will not give up, and we will claim Lebanon back for its people. Lebanon belongs to us, its people, and we won't let any one steal it from us.

I, the displaced, exiled, homeless, stateless, immigrant live under the sword of a vengeful and spiteful Taef regime that rules my country and took away my right to vote in my Lebanese embassy and consulate of my country of residence, unlike the vast majority of countries that recognize and grant that right to their citizens wherever they may be. This regime deprives millions of our people, whom it itself disseminated and displaced all over the globe, of the right to vote in their consulates and embassies.

To all of you, sons and daughters of the Diaspora, "of the Mahjar", whose hearts always long for the Mountain and the City by the Mediterranean:  This is the regime that says your homeland loves you, wants your help, wants you to keep sending money to fuel the economy it destroyed, and wants you to create businesses between the homeland and your country of residence. The regime wants all of this, but it will not let you vote! Let that regime puts its foot where its mouth is: This is the time to show, in fact and not in word, that it really cares for you and for what you think, and that your opinion really matters. IT SHOULD LET YOU VOTE IN THIS AND FUTURE ELECTIONS. The fact that it has never allowed you to vote in the past is because it knows where your votes will go. It knows you live in decent countries where people vote with their conscience. It knows that your conscience is on the side of the truth and that your vote will choose the light of freedom over the darkness of despair. And so the dwarfs in the ruling regime in Beirut are afraid of your free voices and your free votes. They want your money, but they don't want your opinion. They are basically telling you: "Shut up and send the money".

Sheik Bashir Gemayel, who was killed by the same hand that is now shutting our mouths and silencing our voices, once said: "We need a president who can shed a tear at the grave of our fallen heroes".

In his footsteps we say: We want a Member of Parliament who suffered the injustices and human rights abuses of the mongrel "Taef Regime", and who peacefully and in a dignified "Ghandiesque" fashion will challenge it with faith and unwavering determination.  

We want a Member of Parliament who is a man of courage and character, a man who calls a spade a spade, who bears witness to the truth, and who loudly proclaims it without fear, hesitation, or compromise.

We want a Member of Parliament who was incarcerated in the jails of the "Taef Regime" because of his fearless defense of his rights and dignity as a human being, a Member of Parliament who knew the pain and hardship of detention and prisons, but who stayed the course, endured, and resisted without despair or surrender.  

We want a Member of Parliament who rejects the Syrian occupation and its puppets with a loud "NO". A Member of Parliament who expresses his rejection by standing side by side with the demonstrators holding high the Lebanese flag and demanding freedom, justice, democracy, and the withdrawal of the Stalinist forces of occupation from his country. We want a Member of Parliament whose policies are guided by the UN Human Rights Charter, international law, and an authentic Lebanese Constitution.

We want a Member of Parliament who was arrested, beaten, insulted and had his bones broken as he marched in support for the rights of his compatriots, oppressed and suffering in their livelihood, dignity, and way of life.      

We want a Member of Parliament who believes, in both word and deed, in the everlasting existence of Lebanon as a nation with a distinct and deeply-rooted identity, the Biblical land of the Cedars, and a modern Lebanese nation that embraces all members of its diverse, multicultural and multiethnic society.  

We want a Member of Parliament who has the patience of Job, the faith of saints, but the heart of a lion who would not waver in defense of the sovereignty, independence, freedom, and dignity of the Lebanese people.  A Member of Parliament who will never trade the blood of his people for the business and political favors of a foreign country, and who will never ever compromise the nation's highest interests or his own convictions and values for backroom deals with the merchants of death in Damascus.  We need a Member of Parliament who is honest, has integrity, and who shares his people's burdens and feels their pain.

My fellow Lebanese, you who are there on the soil of Lebanon, let your vote be my vote on September 14, 2003. Let your vote be the vote of the millions of us who cannot go home and who cannot vote. The regime that displaced me millions of miles away from my village is the same regime that is stealing your money and that has made your life so miserable. Each one of your votes is a million-fold because you represent each one of us here who cannot vote. Your vote against the dictators and the thieves will take you one big step closer to freedom, and will bring us one mile closer to Lebanon. Help us fulfill the dream of returning to the houses that our fathers and mothers built, the houses we grew up in, the houses of our childhood, which we have not seen in many years of exile.

On September 14, 2003, there is an election in occupied Lebanon. Let your conscience be your judge when you are alone behind the screen holding your ballot. Remember that on another September 14, back in 1982, the hand that is suffocating you today is the hand that killed Bashir Gemayel, one of the many dashed hopes we've had.  As you cast your ballot in the box, remember the sacrifices of the thousands of our heroes who gave their lives willingly so that the dignity and honor of Kahale, Araya, Ras El Haref, Hadath, El Abadiyeh, and the rest of the towns, villages, and hamlets of Aley-Baabda were defended. Remember why they died, and let you conscience vote!


My fellow Lebanese in occupied Lebanon and in the Diaspora, change is on its way and much faster than many of us anticipate. But you have to be part of that change. You have to make it happen so that it is yours. Don't let others own it because you can claim it for history. A simple act of voting will make you part of the liberation of Lebanon in this great moment of its history.  We live in dynamic and fast moving times. There is no room or mercy for those who cling to antiquated ideas and fossilized mindsets, or to those who want you to remain bound by fear, isolation, and backwardness.  

The world after September 11 and the toppling of the Baathist Iraqi regime is not the same world that we knew before.  Accordingly, all the political equations that held true for many decades and which determined the logic of Lebanese politics, resistance strategies, opposition tactics and national objectives are no longer true. There is an new dynamic that is imposing itself which, like an earthquake, will effect long-awaited positive change in the Lebanese status quo.  This change will happen with you or without you, but your actions now will determine if it happens in the direction you want. This is the essence of democratic action: To understand that each little action counts, that every drop of melting snow on a tiny isolated mountainside near Jabal Sannine and Jabal Knaisseh, will contribute to the torrential river downstream.  The wind is blowing, and you must set the sails on your ship in the right direction. Otherwise you will be left behind. Each one of you must act now to seize the moment and do everything you can to be ready and prepared. God helps only those who help themselves.

In the end, your choice in the Aley-Baabda election is between freedom and slavery. Your vote will make the difference: It can pave the way for freedom to come in, and for the shackles of slavery to be thrown away.


Elias Bejjani
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)