The Observatory has been informed about the harassment and intimidation of Ghassan Abdallah, Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), a member organisation of FIDH based in Lebanon, working on promoting, protecting and defending the fundamental and inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees.
On May 12, 2022, Ghassan Abdallah left Beirut airport to attend a human rights seminar organised by the FIDH in Tunis, Tunisia. Having dual nationality (Lebanese and Canadian), he presented his Canadian passport to the authorities. The passport controller officer asked him to go to the General Security office without giving a reason. After a long wait, Ghassan Abdallah’s belongings were thoroughly searched and he was allowed to take off for Tunis.
On May 16, 2022, on his return from Tunis to Beirut from the seminar, Ghassan Abdallah was again requested to go to the General Security office after landing at the Beirut airport, where he was taken back to the border police to be searched in front of all the other passengers, and forced to remove his prosthetic leg, even though he claimed that this practice is humiliating and that the scanner could have been used. The authorities failed to provide a reason for this search.
The Observatory recalls that Ghassan Abdallah has already been harassed in the past. On May 14, 2018, he was summoned to the central headquarters of the General Security in Beirut where he was questioned about the activities he attended as well as the participants and regional and international networks and organisations PHRO is affiliated to. In addition, he was questioned about his visit to the West Bank in 2013. Ghassan Abdallah was arbitrarily detained for two days: General Security referred him to the headquarter of the military intelligence at El-Yarzeh on May 15, 2018, where he was re-questioned on the same issues and detained there for one night, after he refused to sign a statement undertaking that he would not go to the West Bank again. He was then released without charges, on May 16, 2018, following a media campaign by PHRO, with the support of regional and international entities and the intervention of some embassies.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the harassment and intimidation of Ghassan Abdallah, which seems to be only aimed at punishing and preventing him from carrying on his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Lebanese authorities to put an end to any act of harassment against him and to take all the necessary measures to ensure a safe and enabling environment for all human rights defenders in Lebanon.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Lebanon asking them to:
- guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ghassan Abdallah and all other human rights defenders in Lebanon;
- put an end to any act of harassment against Ghassan Abdallah, and more generally against all human rights defenders in Lebanon;
- take the necessary measures to ensure that Ghassan Abdallah and all human rights defenders in Lebanon are able to carry out their legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of harassment, threats, or acts of intimidation of any kind.
- Mr. Najib Mikati, Prime Minister, Grand Serail, Beirut, Lebanon, Twitter: @Najib_Mikati
- Mr. Henry Khoury, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Adlieh, Beirut, Lebanon, Twitter: @MOJ_Lebanon
- Mr. Bassam Mawlawi, Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Ministry of Interior, Sanayeh, Beirut, Lebanon, Twitter: @MawlawiBassam
- Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in Geneva, rue de Moillebeau 58, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in New York, 866 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, e-mail : email@example.com
- Embassy of Lebanon in Brussels, rue G. Stocq, 2 1050 Brussels, Belgium, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Lebanon in your respective countries.