BEIRUT — Six Syrians who were arrested by the Lebanese Army last week outside the Syrian Embassy in Baabda, including opposition activists from Daraa, remain in the custody of Lebanese General Security, human rights observers told L’Orient Today.
Here’s what we know:
• Initial reports of the case had said that the young men were “kidnapped” at the embassy after being summoned to pick up their passports. The Syrian Embassy issued a statement denying as the “baseless allegations” that the Syrians had been disappeared after entering the embassy.
• On Saturday, the Lebanese Army issued a statement saying that its intelligence directorate had arrested six Syrians, who were identified only by their initials, for having entered Lebanon illegally, and turned them over to General Security. Asked for further details, a spokesperson for the army told L’Orient Today, “These are Syrians who entered Lebanon illegally, just that.” A General Security spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
• Marielle Hayek, program coordinator with the Access Center for Human Rights, a group that monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, told L’Orient Today that the group has confirmed that six Syrian men — five from Daraa and one from the Damascus countryside — were arrested outside the embassy, two of them on Tuesday of last week and four more on Friday. The man from Damascus was apparently arrested in a case of mistaken identity, Hayek said. Hayek said her group is in touch with family members of the detained and is working to secure attorneys for them.
• The four men arrested Friday, all activists from Daraa, had applied for passports “and were called by the Syrian embassy to come collect their passports, which is, for the record, not something they usually do,” Hayek said. Upon arrival, she said, they were arrested in front of the embassy by Lebanese Army intelligence and taken to the Ministry of Defense and then handed over to General Security.
• It is not yet clear if General Security will initiate deportation proceedings. The Lebanese state has previously deported Syrian refugees, citing a 2019 decision allowing for forcible removal of Syrians who entered the country illegally after April 24 of that year. In June, at least 15 Syrians were deported from Lebanon, including five who had attempted to flee from Lebanon to Cyprus on a smuggler boat and were turned back by Cyrpiot authorities.
• The Progressive Socialist Party issued a statement Saturday decrying the “disappearance of Syrian citizens when they visited their country’s embassy in Lebanon without any justification,” which it said violated international law, as well as “Lebanese sovereignty and human rights principles.” The party also criticized the Lebanese state policy of organizing “safe return” trips for Syrian refugees under the coordination of General Security as potentially endangering the returnees, to which General Security responded in a statement, “No incident was recorded with any Syrian citizen who returned to his country under the auspices of General Security.”
BEIRUT — Six Syrians who were arrested by the Lebanese Army last week outside the Syrian Embassy in Baabda, including opposition activists from Daraa, remain in the custody of Lebanese General Security, human rights observers told L’Orient Today.Here’s what we know: • Initial reports of the case had said that the young men were “kidnapped” at the embassy after being...