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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

AKOURI TO PELOSI: Bring home Lebanese detainees out of Syria

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Letter to House Leader highlights plight of captives

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, John Akouri, former Senior Advisor and Press Secretary to US Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), urged her to bring home all Lebanese Detainees out of Syria as she departs Damascus. The letter went on to say:

“Madame Speaker, though I disagree in the strongest terms possible with your visit to Syria at this time, while there, I urge you to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all Lebanese detainees held in that country and to insist upon the return of remains of any POW’s to their families in Lebanon.”
In the letter, Akouri cited a report published by the Associated Press just last week noting: “Human rights groups and families say they have evidence of at least 176 Lebanese in Syrian jails, many of whom have been there for more than a decade. The list includes dozens of soldiers, two Maronite Christian monks and at least one politician.”
According to the report: “International human rights groups say hundreds of Lebanese have been taken to Syria since it first sent troops into Lebanon in 1976. The detainees were from various Muslim and Christian sects and different political factions, from right-wing Christians to Muslim extremists.”
Akouri also stressed the global call for the freedom of these detainees. Just last month, Montreal's Lebanese Community campaigned for prisoners arbitrarily held in Syrian jails with a presentation of this tragic human rights crisis, which shed light on the fact that hundreds of Lebanese prisoners have been held in Syrians jails under the cruelest conditions for over a decade. These individuals, who have been kidnapped and taken as prisoners, are regularly subjected to extreme forms of torture.
Syria's denial of holding these prisoners is making their release a near-impossible task. However, some human right activists are fighting back. A humanitarian NGO known as SOLIDE (Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile) along with the families of the detainees, have been holding an open-ended sit-in in front of the United Nations building in Beirut since April 11, 2005, hoping that their cry for justice might prompt some action.
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JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">