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Jean Eckian Beirut, July 19, 2006
Dear Friends and Colleagues, Thankfulness is a good starting point whether in Christian worship or in human relationships. Indeed, as I write these lines, I cannot butthank those who, during these past days of turmoil, have exhibited a sense of solidarity with the people of Lebanon, prayed for peace, made concrete suggestions, or silently felt with us.
What is going on? How are you doing? What are you doing? What is going to happen? These have been the questions of those inside and outside Lebanon.
The country is in a state of shock.
Eight days ago, all we were discussing at Haigazian University was the student enrollment and financial aid needs for Fall 2006-2007, now, with a suspended Summer session and uncertain days ahead, we are simply hoping that by the end of September there will be a start of the Fall semester, the ruined bridges will be rebuilt, the internal displacement problems will be solved, and we will see and end to the hostilities before the Summer ends.
Three weeks ago, my wife and I were touring some beautiful parts of Lebanon, the Bekaa valley, the valuable ruins of Baalbeck and Anjar with our commencement speaker, president emeritus of Boston University, Dr. Aram Chobanian and his wife. Now, there are unattractive ruins all over the country; they have no touristic value, and we cannot even get to the closest ruins to us.
A week ago, the supermarkets, petrol stations, and bakeries of Lebanon were begging customers to choose their branch or brand, now, in most parts of the country, shelves are being emptied, petrol is being saved, and US dollars are unavailable in the banks. Note that I am not even referring to certain villages in the South, where the ill have no access to medical care, and the hungry have no access to food stores.
These types of villages are increasing by number every day.
Until last week, the Haigazian neighborhood and downtown Beirut were busy with tourists, students, and businessmen. Now, the whole area has turned into a relatively safe haven for displaced people from Southern Beirut and South Lebanon. 500,000 people have been internally displaced. Up to 100,000 have gone into Syria. On our street alone, two floors of the Armenian Evangelical College next-door are housing close to 75 people, including many children; the former School of Law on our other side is packed with hundreds of families, and the Sanaayeh Garden near our place is a roofless shelter for many more hundreds. These people are nervous and devastated. I hear them quarreling with each other about who should sleep in which corner. Every time they get bad news from their town or about their relatives, loud cries erupt from the School of Law 100 meters away. Contrary to my memory of former times of similar experiences, this time, many of the displaced families around us are middle income people and somewhat educated. Some 300 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Lebanon so far and 1000 injured.
Central Beirut is certainly safer than many other parts of the country. The quiet is interrupted egularly by the sounds of explosions. Here's how it has been so far: If oud explosions are heard early in the morning, then people do not go to work.
If they are heard during the day, the streets are vacated immediately. One or the other, has been happening every day. Some of the least expected areas have been targeted outside the outhern suburbs of Beirut, a bomb here and a bomb there, in the port of Beirut, the Manara, Ashrafieh, Jounieh, Hadath, etc. And these are what I call the safe areas of this war. We are much safer, so far, than many others in the country. Some freedom to move around, buy things, communicate are good gifts in these difficult days.
In a day or two, most foreign countries will have evacuated those citizens who have wished to leave the country. It is said that this is the largest wartime evacuation effort of its kind since WW2. Many of the evacuees feel unhappy they are leaving their friends in unsafe situations. Most Lebanese feel that once the westerners are out, attacks will intensify against Lebanon. But I remind myself and others, we have seen this before and survived. We will survive again, by faith. Even in these days, there are blessings and reasons for thankfulness.
Here are some conclusions I need to share:
- The current crisis will certainly lead the young people of this country, especially the Christians to fall into hopelessness, thus to intensified attempts to emigrate. Therefore, churches, NGOs and others will need to be very creative and dedicated in their ministry. We will need more people who can speak the truth not simply with love, but mainly with hope.
-As soon as the crisis is over, the Lebanese will want to rebuild.
-International help will be desperately needed. The economy has been hit strongly. Therefore, the already existing financial crisis of the people will get much much worse. Schools that have welcomed displaced people will need to be renovated as soon as possible. As far as Haigazian University is concerned, more financial aid will be requested by the students.
- The Lebanese did not enter this crisis in a unified stance, and this is taken advantage of. It is expected that the strikes against Lebanon will create more tension among the Lebanese. I hope not. Who is to blame, they ask? We have learnt in olitics that blaming is part of a strategic game. Who started this? Who reacted and how? These questions seem so insignificant if compared to questions of justice and peace and love. I would rather ask: Who is being just to whom? What is hurting in each society? What truths is the media hiding? What misleading interpretations are being spread? Again, I have been disappointed (but not surprised) by the poor quality of the
international coverage with some exceptions. Airtime does not mean quality news.
Giving one piece of news from Lebanon and a parallel from Israel is not necessarily good journalism. Media is also politics. Finding the truth about matters such as wars is a very complex endeavor.
Getting to the roots of problems has never been the
virtue of politicians and powerful leaders. No easy conclusions can be satisfactory.
- No matter how hard the situation, I should also mention that many people are also working hard in Lebanon and elsewhere to ease the pain of others. Many volunteers, including Armenian ones, are helping their compatriots. Also, even as we prepare for worse days ahead, it is amazing that some people on the Haigazian University staff are working six hours a day painting classrooms, moving furniture from one office to the other, preparing for the Fall Semester!
I hope to keep in touch, hopefully with shorter messages. Keep praying for us all, for all people inside and beyond all borders.
In conclusion and while US dollars are unavailable in the banks and with money-changers of Lebanon, I feel we can truly realize and believe that "in God we trust".
Rev. Paul Haidostian, Ph.D.President Haigazian University P.O.B. 11-1748 Riad El Solh 1107 2090 Beirut, Lebanon

Dear friends,
I am sending you an article which I wrote a few days ago, titled "Hear Our Cry". As a Lebanese, it is my message-cry regarding the unjustice that is prevailing in Lebanon. I would appreciate if you help me circulate it to all those concerned with humanity. I do not wish to gain anything out of it but just to cry out loud that enough is enough!
Hoping for peace. Sarine
Hear Our Cry! Enough Is Enough!
I am a citizen of Lebanon living in this biblical land. Currently being one of those who is living and witnessing the ongoing horror in my beautiful country, I am enraged, angered, sad, distressed and confused as to what to do. I am sick and tired of people taking advantage of my country, carrying out their own wars on my land, cleaning up their dirty laundry at the cost of my fellow citizens. I am not a supporter of any political party; I am with the land of "Milk and Honey" as the Bible states. My
rage is against Israel, Hezbollah, Bush's USA, Iran, Syria and the
previous Lebanese government. How dare they, under selfish pretexts, which I do not even wish to discern, exploit our country to settle their horrendous accounts.
Hezbollah claims to be defending its land. I used to admire that group during the years when Israel had occupied the South, being the only ones to defend the land. After the occupation, they should have joined the Lebanese Army if they really intended to defend this land. They have no right to compel the people of Lebanon to pay the price for their selfish moves!
Bush (yes, Bush, not even Mr. Bush!) has declared himself as nothing short of the next Messiah who has taken under his 'wings' the duty of bringing justice to the world, stopping terror from the globe!!! What a noble and kindred spirit! Shame on him! What right does he have to violate the privacies of other countries? Before meddling
internationally, one should clean up the national disorder. What about the homeless in the USA? What about the educational standards in a number of public schools? What about the crime rates in the states? What about substance abuse rates? What about tempered rights of children?
What about the youth landing home in coffins from Iraq? Israel! Shame on you for using "God's Chosen People" as a slogan for every inhumane action in the world! God's chosen people should be setting examples for the rest of the world, not violating every single humanitarian decree! What will you tell God about the innocent children whose lifeless bodies are hanging out from their parents' cars as they are
fleeing your bombs? What will you tell the children whose parents are lying dead in front of them with their intestines bulging out of their bodies in front of their tiny innocent eyes? What will you tell students when they find their schools completely destroyed and levelled to the ground? How can you justify bombing ambulances and humanitarian workers when they are selflessly and nobly trying to fulfill their missions of evacuating people and caring for the wounded? How can you hit homes and not allow people to remove their dead from under the rubble? THEIR DEAD! You took their ives, at least leave their dead bodies to their families!
Syria and Iran! It pains my heart to see those two beautiful countries who have throughout the history of mankind been pioneers in almost every aspect of existence (long before the Western world had even woken up) now taking a back seat in the vehicle ofmodernizing the world. There exist noble people in those countries who have now been classified as terrorists because of the dark leadership ruling them.
If that is the way they want their countries governed, they have every right to do so! But keep Lebanon outof it!
We are not savages, we are not beasts! We are a civilized nation.
We do not accept to have others recklessly run our country. It is time that we have a strong governing body that prioritizes the needs of its nation above others.
What we are facing today is Hurricane Katrina and the last Tsunami combined and then multiplied! Yes modern world, that is what we have! There are around half a million refugees all around Lebanon having taken shelter in schools, and yes, even on so-called safe "streets" sleeping on sidewalks. Do we really understand what that means?500,000 people sleeping on the icy ground, with no blankets, no mattresses, nothing to eat but a bite of bread once a day! Do wereally know what it means to have 200 people use 4 toilets and not have a single drop of water to flush it? Do we? Let's just face the bare facts for a moment. We read and hear the media say "war" and "refugees". Now, picture one of our local schools with your entire family in it, with your newborn baby crying for milk, with your young son shaking from fear not grasping why he is sitting on the floor while his father or mother is bleeding to death in front of him and the ambulance is not coming! What would you do?
Wouldn't you spit at the face of this unjust world? Enough is enough! The Lebanese are a proud and noble nation, who after 30 years of destructive war caught up with the rest of the world and proved to everybody that they can be the best in any professional domain.
Let us be, let us help the world with our potentials, allow us to our basic human rights so we can live andbe able to welcome you on our biblical land and share with you the "Milk and Honey" that God has bestowed upon us.
Sarine Khatchikian School Director
Dear all,
Let me first thank those of you who inquired about my safety.
I am writing this e-mail from Lebanon. As you all (hopefully) know, Lebanon has been under Israeli naval and aerial siege for over a week.
Not only that, but our infrastructure has been reduced into a pile of rubble. No place in Lebanon has been spared. No one in Lebanon has been spared. So far we have an official figure of 300 civilians killed and over a 1000 injured and maimed by Israeli aggression. The security situation was really bad two days ago, with many suburbs (especially southern suburbs) of the capital city of Beirut being bombed. The
bombings haven't stopped but yesterday and today have been relatively calm (part of he reason is that the HezbAllah resistance fighters have retaliated and hit many strategic facilities in Israel). I live in a relatively "safe" area, but haven't been able to really go to the city center much to take photos, as the Israelis are now targeting
anything that moves. The Armenian community is - so far - safe, but not for long I presume, since the Israelis have already bombed "Christian areas" of Beirut where HezbAllah has no presence at all...
Now I am sure many of you have been following the story, but allow me to say, your (i.e. Western) media is a joke. I have been watching what your media has been aying about all this. I doubt that anyone in USA/Canada/Europe knows what is REALLY going on here. When I say our infrastructure has been reduced to rubble I do mean it. Our electricity grid has been bombed save for 2 small plants, which provide electricity to some areas in Mount Lebanon. The remaining areas are pretty much cut off from power. The fuel situation is pretty bad too. Many people have private power generators, but since we are running out of diesel, those will be irrelevant in a few days. Half a million people have become displaced, many have fled to Syria. Many
have died on the road to Syria, as Israeli jets have targeted civilian convoys. The food situation is so far not catastrophic. Well, in the South people are running out of food, but here there is merely a visible absence of vegetables and fruits, since all bridges connecting Bekaa and South Lebanon (major agricultural areas) have been bombed.
But as more and more refugees flock to the capital soon there will be a shortage of food. People here, in this relatively "actionless" and calm town in Mount Lebanon have been panicking and stocking up on (mostly canned) food. So far though prices are reasonable, and most food materials are still available. But people are bracing for the
worst. We don't know which area will be next. But the bombings seem to be moving to the center of the country, where ironically there are no HezbAllah fighters...
The people here, though at first were against HezbAllah's rash actions, are now 100% behind it. With every blow to the Israelis, there is cheering here in Lebanon, from people of all religions and sects, including Armenians. There is a feeling of anger at the actions of the Israelis, which destroyed the fledgling economy of Lebanon.
Factories have been bombed, restaurants have been bombed. Absolutely nothing has been spared. What is worse, the people are seeing the reaction of the Western leaders to all this, and it is filling them up with anger and bitterness. What is good and positive, however, is the complete unity of the Lebanese people. So there are no sectarian cracks at the moment, and I doubt there will be any time soon. Well,
not to bore you with such "silly" details...
All is well on my side, and I just wanted to keep you all updated. So far I have had uninterrupted connection to the internet (both wi-fi and dial-up - so land lines are working fine in this area), which is not the case for many people, since more than one ISP has been the victim of "collateral damage". I have been keeping a blog, and making
regular updates of the situation here on the ground. You may find it here: or (should the domain go down for some reason). You may pass on the link to family, friends, or anyone who is interested. I will also be posting pictures whenever I can.
Frankly, the situation is pretty scary so people are avoiding going
out of their houses. So far we have not had the need to go down to bomb shelters. There is serious shortage of bomb shelters in the suburbs of Beirut, but here in apartment-lined towns of Mount Lebanon, I presume that is not the case (we have bomb shelter in our building).
Anyhow, that is all from this part of the world. I was planning on visiting Armenia in August and paying a surprise visit to the people I met there, but it won't be happening... Next year, I guess.....
If you would like to show solidarity with the Lebanese people (including at least 80,000 Armenians who are suffering due to Israeli aggression), a quick search will lead you to details on protests in your areas. I am not sure, but maybe your local Indymedia websites will have relevant information...
Shoghig, Beirut, july, 20 2006
To save the life of civil (petition)


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