23/01/2023

LEBANON: Guardians of the Cedars party and former Minister Eli Maroni denounce judicial prosecution of Universal Syriac Union Party President Ibrahim Mrad

BEIRUT — Following the public statements of many regional and Lebanese political parties and social organizations, the Guardians of the Cedars (Ḥurrās al-Arz, GoC) political party has denounced the ongoing security and judicial harassment targeting Secretary General of the Christian Front and President of the Universal Syriac Union Party (USUP) Ibrahim Mrad. In its statement, issued on Saturday by the party’s founder Etienne Saqr, also known as Abu Arz, the GoC accused “the corrupt regime that controls power in Lebanon” of practicing “a policy of repression, muffling free voices, and intimidating opinion-holders and free speech”. The judicial persecution of Mrad falls within this framework of suppressing freedom of opinion and expression, it says.

The GoC affirmed its support for Mrad and all “the free fighters who call for the liberation of Lebanon from foreign occupations, especially that of Iran”. The statement concluded by stressing that the policies of repression and intimidation are not beneficial and will not discourage the honorable Lebanese people from demanding the liberation of their country and defending their freedom and dignity, no matter the cost.

Saqr is a Syriac Maronite and the founder of the Christian nationalist Guardians of the Cedars militia and political party. His militia was active in the Lebanese civil war in opposition to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Syrian presence in Lebanon. After the withdrawal of Israel from the south of Lebanon, Saqr relocated to Cyprus.

In related news, former MP and Minister Eli Maroni denounced Hezbollah’s dominance over all aspects of the Lebanese state and expressed his full solidarity with Mrad. He did so in a video in which he called on the Lebanese judiciary to remain impartial. Maroni said that he has a close friendship with Mrad and that he is a strong supporter and defender of freedom of opinion and expression.