The  Glowing Flame of Liberation
By: Elias Bejjani

Lit by General Michel Aoun and the great people of Lebanon on March 14, 1989, the torch of liberation burns brightly. Like the souls of the freedom-loving Lebanese, it will never be quenched until Lebanon achieves total and unconditional liberation.

General Michel Aoun as Prime Minister and army commander, tirelessly and honestly battled the conspiracy that targeted Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and entity. Marshaling all available resources, he engaged in a war of liberation against the Syrian occupier on March 14, 1999. The great people of Lebanon and their courageous army fought bravely and fiercely under his leadership. Regional and international interferences as well as a power struggle made them abort liberation endeavors. The gallant Lebanese lost their battle on March 14, 1989, but they did not lose the war.

Although the Liberation War could not oust the Syrian army, it did have extremely positive psychological effects. Lebanese discovered the raw Syrian hegemonic agenda, as well as the treason of many so called leaders.

All the Lebanese communities have been suffering since 1975 because of the wars of others and have paid high prices for making their country a battlefield and an arena for regional and international conflicts. Now and after the conspiracy objectives have been brought to light, the time has come for all the Lebanese communities to assume their patriotic responsibilities in continuing the peaceful liberation war in all domains. All are equal partners in defending Lebanon's independence, sovereignty, honor and freedom.

The final stage of the Syrian Baathist conspiracy was executed on October 13, 1990, when the Syrian Army invaded and conquered the last free regions of Free Lebanon. The Syrian army ousted the legitimate government of General Michel Aoun and perpetrated the cold-blooded massacre of hundreds of innocent citizens. It murdered, mutilated and executed more than 500 Lebanese soldiers even after a truce had been declared and after General Aoun publicly agreed to end the fight, ordering his troops to halt the resistance.

Since 1990 all Lebanese officials have been Syrian-installed and Syrian-controlled. Lebanon at the present time is a Syrian occupied country. Every facet of Lebanese life is dominated by Syria, despite the fact that Lebanon has a president, a government, a parliament and an active membership in the UN and in Arabic league. But these are sadly only decorations. Lebanon has been raped of its democracy, freedoms free decision-making, sovereignty, and independence. Its officials, politicians and all institutions are under Syria's full hegemony, from the kindergartens to the Parliament.

In spite of the many years that have elapsed since the war of others started in 1975, its treacherous acts are still actively unfolding against Lebanon and the Lebanese, and more fiercely, although they have been taking different forms, that are all vicious, devastating and fatal. The venomous objectives of the conspiracy remain focused on destroying Lebanon's unique common living, pluralism, balanced demography, identity, history, economy, freedoms and democracy.

Under the Syrian hegemony and its puppet Lebanese appointed officials and politicians, the people of Lebanon are treated as slaves. Deprived of basic human rights, oppressed, displaced, jailed, persecuted and impoverished. Two-thirds of them live below the poverty line as reported by the United Nations, thousands are displaced and not allowed yet to reclaim their own houses and property, and more than one million were forced to flee the country since 1990, with no opportunity to return. At the same time over a million and a half Syrian workers have invaded Lebanon and are controlling its work market.

The Syrian Baathist occupier is ignoring the solid fact that the Lebanese through their deeply rooted history have always defeated and humiliated all occupiers who deluded themselves that Lebanon could be occupied and its people vanquished All these occupiers were forced to leave Lebanon in shame and degradation. There is not the slightest doubt that the current Syrian occupier will meet the same fate as the many others who attempted to challenge the Lebanese bravery and were soundly defeated.

Lebanese know that no outside miracle will liberate their country. Liberation must come from within. It will come from the Lebanese people who believe in their country's distinctive identity, and its holy 10452 Km square doctrine. They are the actual miracle.

Let the occupiers never forget that we are the sons and daughters of a great country and a great people.
Let the occupiers never forget Lebanon's deeply rooted history, culture and civilization.
Let the occupiers never forget: Lebanon belongs to the Lebanese. And only to the Lebanese. It is ours, and shall be for our children and grand children.

Let the occupiers never forget: we shall have no peace of mind until our beloved country is liberated from all foreign troops.
Let the Invaders and occupiers never forget: they might be able to temporarily conquer Lebanon's land but they shall never conquer the Lebanese minds and consciences. The Lebanese were born free and shall die free.

The March 14, 1989, liberation war lives on, and the flame of its torch shall burn brightly in the hearts, minds, spirits, and actions of all Lebanese until Lebanon regains full and unconditional liberation from all foreign forces!

**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)