01 July 2011

* STL Indictment is out: Hariri hails turning point

The following is the full text of a statement released by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri following the delivery of an indictment and four arrest warrants by the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Dear Lebanese, brothers and sisters, friends everywhere,After long years of patience, waiting and continued national struggle, the indictment in the criminal assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions was announced today. Today, we witness together a distinctive historic moment in the political, judicial, security and moral life of Lebanon. I feel the beats in my heart embracing the hearts of all the Lebanese who have defended the cause of justice and refused to bargain over the blood of martyrs.
We all fought together for this historic moment. We struggled in our daily, family, social, cultural, political and economic life. We chose not to take revenge or engage in resentment. We relied on God and started a costly and long path toward justice and truth through a tribunal of an international character with Lebanese judges that would provide evidence and give the accused, whoever they are, a chance to defend themselves.
Today, I find myself closer than any time before to my family and the people of my country. I am with them in all cities, towns and homes. I am with the families and crowds who rushed to the Freedom Square and the grave of the martyr prime minister, filling the squares all over Lebanon, defying desperation, intimidation and threats, and vowing not to surrender to the will of the killers and criminals.
I salute and embrace each and every one of you and tell you all: Thank you. Thanks to the beloved Lebanese people. I renew my pledge to remain with you loyal to the legacy of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and of all the other martyrs and the free people who fell on the road of the Cedars Revolution and the free independent national decision.
This progress in the course of justice and the Special Tribunal is for all the Lebanese without any exception, and it should be a turning point in the history of fighting organized political crime in Lebanon and the Arab world, just as we want it to be a focal point for uniting the Lebanese in the face of the factors of division and the attempts to disrupt the principles of national reconciliation.
On this occasion, I cannot but express, on my behalf and on behalf of my mother, sisters, brothers, uncle, aunt and all the members of the family, our sincerest feelings of solidarity with the families of the martyrs who fell with the martyr prime minister, and the friends and families and companions of all the martyrs who fell on this great national path, which launched the spark of freedom in Lebanon and the Arab world.
It is a moment to salute the families of all our martyrs, each and every father, mother, sister and brother who chose the path of justice and truth, not revenge, giving full meaning to their sacrifices and to the struggle of the Lebanese people for sovereignty, freedom and independence.
We are all part of a patriotic Lebanese family, who takes note on this day, with loyalty and appreciation, of what our Arab brothers and all the friends in the world have offered to achieve justice and protect Lebanon from the terror series of political crime.
Loyalty also requires that we reiterate our thanks to everyone involved in the investigation of the crimes that targeted symbols of Lebanon, from Lebanese official security and justice agencies, to the international investigation team, and everyone who worked and is still working in the framework of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the files related to it in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1757.
Dear brothers and sisters, justice offers today a new chapter of truth, and nothing can disrupt the spirit of justice.
Responsibility requires everyone to accompany this spirit and refrain from disturbing the course of justice, and to find in the announcement of the indictment an opportunity for the Lebanese state to assume its responsibilities, as well as the Lebanese government’s commitment to cooperate fully with the international tribunal and not to avoid pursuing the accused and handing them over to justice, which is a guarantee of democracy and stability.
The Lebanese government is invited politically, nationally, legally and morally, to implement Lebanon’s obligations toward the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and nobody has an excuse to escape from this responsibility. I humbly ask that nobody put in doubt our will or the decision of the Lebanese to persevere in order to achieve justice in the assassinations of all the Cedar Revolution martyrs, and that everybody be sure that intimidation will not help to break this will.
Lebanon has paid the price of this moment, in decades of killings and assassinations without accountability. It is time to put a final end to this shameful series. The end of the killers’ era has begun, and the beginning of the era of justice is approaching.
Lebanon has triumphed for international justice, and justice has triumphed for the souls of the martyrs. At this moment, I can only look toward the spirit of my father, martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and the spirits of the martyrs who fought for Lebanon, and tell them that your blood was not shed in vain, and that the truth has began to see the light and justice is coming.
May God have mercy upon you for what you have given to Lebanon and all the Lebanese, and may God bless you with heaven.
Long live the martyrs of Lebanon. Long live justice. Long live Lebanon.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.