Even outside Lebanon, the MP’s and their bodyguards are embarrassing Lebanon. This is not the first time MP’s bodyguards attack journalists or civilians. But when it happens outside Lebanon, this is a disgrace.
According to the Declaration of Rights and Duties of Journalists, “The right to information, to freedom of expression and criticism is one of the fundamental rights of man.” Accordingly, journalists and their equipment are protected by laws for them to carry on their jobs safely.
We might not respect that in Lebanon, and our people in power might feel entitled to cross the line when they want, but “civilized” countries take it very seriously; the way they take very seriously the fundamental principles of Human Rights and freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of beliefs, and respect of others’ property.
Henceforth, when these principles are infringed in a country like Switzerland, not even a political status can spare you from being held accountable. And the incident of one of our politicians just happened to have occurred at an international conference based on the principles of human rights and the right of all humans to live in dignity and safety.
The World Refugee Conference, held on Tuesday at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to discuss the issues of the Syrian Refugees, gathered heads of states and foreign ministers. Caretaker foreign minister Gebran Bassil represented Lebanon in the series of meetings and also attended meetings with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan.
While in the lobby of the UN Headquarters during these meetings, a prominent journalist filming the attendees with his cellphone, including minister Bassil, saw his cellphone suddenly seized by the bodyguard of MP Bassil.
German journalist Jaafar Abdul Karim is of Lebanese origins. He hosts Jaafartalk, writes for Zeit Online, and has a video blog at Spiegel Online. In 2016, he was named Germany’s Reporter of the Year.
Jaafar Abul Karim took to Twitter to tell the public: “Lebanese FM [Foreign Minister] Gebran Bassil had his security confiscate my phone and erase the video when I was trying to interview him at UN Refugees forum in Geneva. UN Security is investigating the incident.”
Lebanese FM @Gebran_Bassil had his security confiscate my phone and erase the video when I was trying to interview him at UN @Refugees forum in Geneva. UN Security is investigating the incident. #refugeeforum #pressfreedom
— Jaafar Abdul Karim (@jaafarAbdulKari) December 17, 2019