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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, December 08, 2010

Akouri to Hariri: Press for the Unconditional Release & Return of All Lebanese Detainees in Syria

(WASHINGTON, DC)...In a statement released this morning, former Capitol Hill Senior Advisor & Washington Press Secretary John Akouri urged Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to boldly inquire the fate of all remaining Lebanese being detained in Syria, when he receives Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali at the Grand Serail today, and again strongly reiterated his call for the unconditional release and return of all Lebanese hostages, detainees, captives, MIA & POW in Syria:

"Your Excellency, 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. These are historic days 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 as it relates to the current state 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.
Premier Hariri, as you are keenly aware, reputable Media Outlets along with Human Rights groups have evidence of over 200 Lebanese who are currently detained, or have rather "disappeared" in Syrian jails. They are primarily victims of the regional conflict and political struggles dominating the region, with many of whom have been there for more than a decade. Detainees include civilians, men and women, 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 on to Lebanese sovereign soil in 1976. These detainees are from various Muslim and Christian sects and different political factions and geographic locations within Lebanon. Some of the detainees were released, others died in custody, and the rest of them are still enduring the cruelty of the Syrian prisons.
Since 1976, and during the ensuing 28 years that followed, the Syrian forces perpetrated arbitrary detentions and kidnapping against thousands of Lebanese citizens, transferring them to the Syrian jails, with total disregard for the rule of International laws. The reality is that these individuals, who were kidnapped and taken as prisoners, are regularly subjected to extreme forms of torture. And during the absence of formal diplomatic relations, Syria's denial of holding these prisoners made their release a near-impossible task. While we continue to applaud the positive efforts you exude in your role as President of the Council of Ministers, and as Lebanon begins this 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.
According to The Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances are considered crimes against humanity. 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. And so, upon completion of today’s diplomatic discussion regarding Lebanese-Syrian relations and the upcoming French-Syrian meeting, I strongly urge you to insist upon the return of all Lebanese detainees, ending their fate of the unknown, and freeing them from the chains of Syrian dungeons.”

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">