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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.

Friday, October 17, 2008

AKOURI TO SALLOUKH: Priority Number One - Demand the Unconditional Release & Return of All Lebanese Hostages, Detainees, Captives, MIA & POW in Syria

(WASHINGTON, DC)...Fmr. Capitol Hill Senior Advisor & Washington Press Secretary John Akouri issued the following statement yesterday upon the announcement of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between Syria and Lebanon for the first time since independence 60 years ago:
"Your Excellency Foreign Minister of Lebanon, The Honorable Fawzi Salloukh, you and I have met in the past. And I tell you now, as I told you then: Lebanese Americans have a vested interest in their country of origin and ancestral homeland. It is this fervent interest that fuels our desire to serve Lebanon and play an active role in its future. This is an historic day for the people of Lebanon and throughout the diaspora, with respect to the nation's national security and border relations.
With the authority granted you by the duly elected Lebanese government in signing official documents formalizing the launch of diplomatic relations between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Lebanese Republic, I urge you to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned Lebanese detainees, hostages, MIA's & POW's held in that country and to insist upon the return of remains of any captives to their families in Lebanon.
"I strongly urge you to fill your returning motorcade and transport convoy with all Lebanese detainees, ending their fate of the unknown, and freeing them from the chains of Syrian dungeons. Bring our boys home, sir."
As you are keenly aware, Mr. Salloukh, reputable Media Outlets along with Human Rights groups have evidence of at least 176 Lebanese in Syrian jails, many of whom have been there for more than a decade, and include civilians, dozens of soldiers, two Maronite Christian monks and at least one politician. International Human Rights organizations say hundreds of Lebanese have been taken to Syria since it first sent troops onto Lebanese sovereign soil in 1976. These detainees are from various Muslim and Christian sects and different political factions and geographic locations within Lebanon.
The reality is that these individuals, who were kidnapped and taken as prisoners, are regularly subjected to extreme forms of torture. And while in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, Syria's denial of holding these prisoners had made their release a near-impossible task. While we applaud your efforts today as Lebanon begins a new chapter with its sisterly neighbor, I implore you to heed the global call for freedom of these detainees arbitrarily held in Syrian jails under the cruelest of conditions, and bring an end to this tragic human rights crisis.
Clearly, the plight of these captives, the fathers, brothers and sons of Lebanon, deserve every right of return to their families with amnesty and jubilant celebration in the same fashion afforded other former wartime captives, generals, leaders, soldiers, presidents and prisoners. In fact, upon completion of your diplomatic mission on behalf of Lebanon, and as you depart Damascus en route to Beirut, I strongly urge you to fill your returning motorcade and transport convoy with all Lebanese detainees, ending their fate of the unknown, and freeing them from the chains of Syrian dungeons. Bring our boys home, sir."

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">