Videos, taken inside the infamous prison of Roumieh, in Lebanon, emerged online. The videos show guards beating prisoners laying on the ground, with a large green stick. The prisoners were shirtless, half-naked, and had their hands tied-up. The abuses may date from April and could be answers or punishment to the riots that month, when prisoners briefly held 20 guards as hostages.
Nuhad Machnuk, Lebanon’s interior minister, announced that the guards who abused the prisoners were arrested.
Omar al Atrash is allegedly one of the prisoners beaten, he is a well-known Islamist cleric and was the Imam of a mosque in Central Bekaa. “He was charged of smuggling suicide bombers and car bombs between Lebanon and Syria through Arsal border crossings.” NOW Lebanon reported in 2014. Does he and the other prisoners “deserve” the treatment from the guards? Absolutely not, never.
Beating a prisoner is useless.
Beating a prisoner, abusing him, torturing him have never lowered the number of religious extremists over the years. Beating them won’t save lives. It is notorious that the Roumieh prison had an “operation room” for the extremists and helped them in their terrorist network, but after the police raid and the destruction of the room and the confiscation of phones, I believe that the connection with the external world is today minimal. The state, with force, took back the control of all the prison. Whether this video happened yesterday or before the full control of the prison by the state doesn’t make any difference to the online repercussion of the videos.
Beating prisoners helps radicalisation and terrorism.
Opportunist extremists will use the video for propaganda purposes. While this abuse and beating may be isolated, the video will be used by some agitators to show that Sunni clerics are abused and that Sunni in general in Lebanon, are abused and oppressed against, no need to say that this is absurd. Some are calling the guards Shias and even Hezbollah members. The video is already a tool in the hands of extremists or agitators, and will help them recruit. Beating a prisoner isn’t “productive”, quite the contrary, their numbers will grow.
There’s absolutely no proof that these guards are Hezbollah members or even sympathisers of Hezbollah. Saying this is only helping the propaganda and therefore the recruitment.
Beating prisoners could lead to unrest.
Some are already calling for protests in Tripoli and other towns. The town has sadly known numerous fightings between Alawites of Jabal Mohsen, Assad supporters, and Sunnis of Bab al Tabbane, a mini proxy war from Syria. The city has also witnessed battles between extremists and the Lebanese army. This video won’t help at all the security of this country.
Beating and abusing a prisoner doesn’t make the guards better than them.
IS, Nusra front, the two leading Islamist groups of Syria, are well known for inhuman acts: IS beheads their prisoners, enslaves woman, pushes homosexuals to their deaths, and it infamously burned a man alive. Nusra Front, though often presented as less violent, are not human rights advocates either, they’re the offshoot of al Qaeda, the same group responsible for 9/11. Omar al Atrash may be directly responsible for the deaths of innocent during multiple bombings in the southern suburb of Beirut. Beating him won’t make the innocent come back from their tombs. It’s useless and sadistic at best.
Isn’t beating them, on the ground, defenceless, resemble the doings of IS?