“I fell down on my knees, covering my eyes from the bright sunlight that I didn’t see for 12 months, 12 months! Can you imagine!? And the fresh air.” That’s how one migrant described his release from the General ‘Security’ Detention Center in Adlieh. Barbaric would be an apt description of the Adlieh center, a location many of us pass by on a daily basis. Heartless, cruel, unfair, unjust, repulsive. You take your pick.
Formerly an underground parking lot, this detention center is now the home of around 800 migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers – the detention center’s capacity is 250. According to the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH), “migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are detained illegally in an underground parking lot where they never see the sunlight and suffer terrible detention conditions for sometimes very prolonged periods of time, with the aim to either punish them for leaving their sponsor, entering illegally in the country, or to oblige refugees to accept their deportation to their country of origin.”
I contacted the CLDH to ask them as to the supposed reason for such bad conditions. In their opinion, “the authorities are purposefully inflicting such bad conditions to the migrants and the refugees to deter illegal immigration, or to force the persons to “accept” their “voluntary repatriation” to their country of origin in violation of their basic rights. Hence, refugees who claim they are in danger in their country of origin finally sign that they accept their deportation because they cannot stand anymore the conditions – female migrant domestic workers accept to depart Lebanon without having been given their rights (for example, some did not take their salaries for months from their employer or have been abused sexually and hence cannot sue the perpetrator).”
A protest is planned this Thursday the 26th -UPDATE: protest is postponed to the 18th of July, International Nelson Mandela day, for security reasons – at 6pm to protest conditions that can only be qualified as torture. Indeed the CLDH states that “foreigners detained at the General Security detention center suffer miserable conditions without knowing the potential duration of their detention that is not supervised by the judiciary. Despite the intentions expressed by the State to improve at least the detention conditions in the place, no changes have taken place so far. This represents for the inmates a very serious mental suffering that is intentionally inflicted to them by state agents. This is the very definition of torture.”
Lebanon is a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture (since 5 October 2000) and it is under that responsibility that we must demand the immediate closure of the Adlieh Center.
Here are a few images of the Adlieh Center:
Newly released video by the CLDH: Testimony of a person who was arbitrarily detained in Lebanon and who was also in the General Security detention center in Adlieh.
I’ll be there and I urge you all to do the same.
Update 18th of July 2014:
A group of Lebanese activists gathered in front of the Adlieh Detention Center to protest the abysmal living conditions that over 250 migrants are forced to live in. More protests will be organized soon until the detention center is abolished.
LBC video report: The Soul of Nelson Mandela lives on in Lebanon