Friday, September 17, 2010

Sept 17 - Remembering Sabra and Shatilla...

By Bujai 

While we celebrate our Sept 16th Malaysia Day, I could not erase my mind of what happened today, exactly 28 years ago in Lebanon. Sept 17, 1982 was when the Israeli-backed Christian Phalangist ambushed Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps south of Beirut, killing about 3,500 people, mostly the defenseless women and children.

Twenty eight years ago, a scene of unspeakable horror rocked the rubble strewn alleys of Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps as vengeance vied with naked lust in a massive display of human malice illuminated for the Israel Defense Force (IDF) overseers of this massacre with flares that provided an unobstructed and panoramic view for Israeli Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon and his Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan.

They were watching from the seven story Kuwaiti embassy which provided logistical support for their Phalangist allies as they massacred for 36 to 48 hours the hapless Palestinians imprisoned in the camps.

The number of casualties was more than that of the Sept 11, 2001 extremist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. However, the Americans want the whole world to remember the date while Sept 17 seemed to have been forgotten. Actually, the West wanted it to be forgotten!

A young journalist then, I arrived in Beirut from Baghdad six days after the massacre. I had been in Iraq for about three weeks covering the war when news about Sabra and Shatilla hit the headlines. It was two days before I flew back to KL via Bangkok when I managed to get a Baghdad-Beirut-Istanbul-Bangkok-KUL reroutes.

I wept like a baby on my first sight of the still-unattended-to mutilated bodies. The scent of the decays didnt bother me much as the shocks were unbearable. I told an Indonesian journalist who was with me from Baghdad, Petrus Suryadi that the massacres would remain a forever shame for the perpetrators. Suryadi, who is a Christian himself, agreed. (I wonder where he is now. He was with Kompas).

And until today, the whole world keeps silence on Sabra and Shatilla. I dont know why but they were very quick at blaming the Muslim terrorists in the Sept 11 attacks. Nothing has been done to prosecute the perpetrators before the international justice.

It was 28 years ago that I saw images of butchered Palestinians, piled up like sacks one over the other. I saw images of murdered men, women, children and elderly filling the streets. I saw women crying and shouting and cursing. I saw Sabra and Shatila. I think of their pain, their suffering and of their fear. I think of 62 years of murder, 62 years of terror and 62 years of Zionism occupying Palestine and threatening global peace.
It was in Sabra and Shatilla that I understood for the first time what it means to mourn, what it feels like to lose someone, how much it hurts to see someone lying in their blood, heard the stories of the their last minutes and listen to the screams of those who survived.
What can be said 28 years later? It is, after all, but an incident in the horrors of sixty years stretching from the middle of the 20th century into the second decade of the 21st. It is an icon of American and Israeli horror, a burial of thousands destroyed savagely and forgotten while a symphony of hypocrisy extolling our virtues buries the reality.

Those who died never existed, their sons and daughters never existed, their dreams and aspirations never existed, the fruit of their loins never blossomed to feel the heat of the sun, the coolness of the water, the fruit of the tree of life. We the indifferent cannot accept their existence nor recognize it lest we accept as well our guilt in their deaths

Returning to Sabra and Shatilla would be an act of retribution, an act that gives voice to the dead that suffered there, to accept responsibility for the horrors we allowed to happen there, to seek forgiveness of those who lost their lives there and cannot ever live those lives again nor see the sun rise or hear the baby’s cry or know the laughter of their children or weep at the loss of a mother or father … their voices have been silenced forever, yet they echo throughout the ages how vicious is the soul of humankind to remain silent and indifferent to their brothers and sisters in death...

also read Big Dog's piece here

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