On its first action following an electoral process which flagrantly challenged the basic rules of the democratic process, the Muzzling Syndicate falsely called the Lebanese Press Editors Syndicate (LPES) presented us with a procedure foreign to union work, media work, and the sanctity of freedom in Lebanon.
The LPES, which is supposed to be the pioneer defending human rights and public freedoms, submitted before the judge of urgent matters a request to order a petition to prevent the Alternative Syndicate of Press (ASP)
from “carrying out any activity through visual, audio and online media, and specifically from publishing any news, data or articles of any kind”. Thus, the LPES disregarded the rights guaranteed by the international conventions enshrined in the Lebanese Constitution, in particular Article 13 which guarantees “the freedom to express opinion in speech and writing, the freedom of printing, the freedom of assembly, freedom of association and the freedom of building organizations.”
The LPES, a syndicate having the duty of protecting journalists, attributed this measure to “preserving its rights” and to preventing what it described as “imminent harm that threatens its work.” A syndicate which has never supported journalists neither by working to preserve their rights nor to protect their lives and safety, insists today on presenting a repressive model to freedoms, while being fearful of dissident voices.
This is an expected reaction from a syndicate which has lost its representative legitimacy due to the absence of the majority of journalists from its affiliation register; a register always welcoming members unrelated to the profession in order to ensure the continued dominance of the political authority.
This Syndicate, which has a responsibility to stand by the journalists in light of the ongoing collapse, is today demanding the imposition of a coercive fine of 100 million Lebanese pounds for every violation of the decision it is asking the judiciary to issue. This is the same Syndicate which has dubious financial records, a matter which supports the righteousness of our struggle against it. It would be better if the LPES played its original role instead of organizing regular visits to major representatives of the political authority, and instead of persecuting independent journalists with moral and verbal threats, and it would be better if it corrected the damages resulting from its continued destructive endeavors.
We, the Alternative Syndicate of Press, after having objected to the LPES elections through our colleague Elissar Koubeissi, affirm today that we will not retreat from our open battle for the independence of the media from the control of the political authority and its parties. And for the Lifeless Syndicate, we confirm that their confrontation is not with the members of the coordination committee of the APS alone -those you are threatening with judicial prosecution and the payment of a coercive fine. Rather, your confrontation will be with hundreds of free journalists who object to your performance, policies and destructive methods towards the media, its objectives and role.
We are journalists, we sanctify nothing but freedom and our right to expression and objection. Your measures will not intimidate us, your threats will not stop us, and your repression will not silence us. We will not stand idle, and we will continue our battle with all the judicial, human rights and media institutions. Your last action is nothing but an attempt to halt the battle that we started until we *overthrow the political authorty’s syndicate, the syndicate of suppression and muzzling.