Yesterday, Monday 11th of July 2016, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the governor of the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, Bashir Khodor, will enforce a new strengthened curfew for Syrians in the district, from 6PM to 6AM, instead of 8PM to 6AM. The governor said the curfew was to be strengthened during the Baalbek Festival, an annual and renowned festival held in the town. Few hours later, the governor denied it and said that the curfew will remain as it is. No official statement or paper show the reversal of the decision.
Racism in Lebanon isn’t a new story. For decades the Lebanese state institutional racism has limited and restricted the rights of Palestinian refugees, and it is now scapegoating the totality of Syrian refugees in Lebanon for so-called security. The curfew imposed on Syrians in Lebanon isn’t new, dozens of municipalities, as Aley, enforced it since 2013. But it is the first time that an entire muhafaza, or governorate, imposes a curfew.
The curfew was imposed after many suicide attacks targeted the small town of Qaa, which is close to the Syrian border. The police found out that the bombers of Syrian nationalities all came from Syria.
The restriction on movement is inhumane and unjustified, and it is reminiscent on the Zionist regime restriction on the movement of Palestinians. Artists who are performing this year in the festival must boycott the festival until an official statement from the governor lifts the tightening of the curfew.
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Petition in full.
On Monday, July 11th, 2016, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the Baalbek-Hermel governorate will impose a curfew for Syrian refugees from 6 PM to 6 AM during the upcoming annual Baalbek International Festival, which takes place from Friday, July 22, 2016 until August, 28, 2016.
While Governor Bashir Khoder verbally denied extending the existing refugee curfew, no official statements have been passed by the Baalbek-Hermel governorate indicating that the NNA reported false news.
Many areas in East Lebanon have already imposed tight curfews on Syrian refugees, and more have been imposed after the recent attacks in the village of Al-Qaa, where 7 suicide attacks took place in late June, murdering 5 and wounding 28 others. While Governor Khoder and the Baalbek-Hermel governorate may consider the massacre in Al Qaa and recent threats around the country to be reference points, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces confirmed that the attackers were not refugees or among them; in fact, they came through the Lebanese-Syrian border.
This is a form of collective punishment and a racist policy to implement on people who are fleeing from such atrocities. We believe that these values do not reflect Baalbek International Festival and their performers.
Therefore, we call on the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate to release an official statement denying the curfews, or to reverse them.
We also call on the this year’s performers to cancel their performances unless these policies are lifted. This year’s performers are the following:
Caracalla Dance Theater – Saturday, July 23
Jean Michel Jarre – Saturday, July 30
Mika – Thursday, August 4
Bob James Quartet – Friday, August 12
Abeer Nehme – Friday, August 19
Lisa Simone – Sunday, August 21
Shereen Abdel Wahab – Friday, August 26
Jose Van Dam Meets Carlos Gardel – Sunday, August 28
We also call on ticket-holders and potential ticket-holders to stand on the side of human rights, justice, and dignity, and boycott Baalbek International Festival 2016 unless these unfair curfews stop taking place.