How many more people in Lebanon must be tortured and denied any semblance of human dignity before this ends?

Last Thursday, L’Orient Le Jour broke the story of Omar and Samer (names changed to protect their anonymity) who were driving south in the beginning of June on a routine road trip to Samer’s home. The two men were stopped at a checkpoint, which of course is also routine.

For whatever reason, the security officers wanted to search the men and the car extra closely. Ruffling through Samer’s bag, they found half a gram of hash that Omar was not even aware existed, according to his interview with L'Orient Le Jour. The two were arrested and put in prison for the night. Although problematic, Omar assumed the ordeal would be over quickly after drug tests were completed. He knew that he would test negative and thus should be released.

Unfortunately, that first night in prison was the start of a three-week ordeal.

When going through the men’s phones, the security officers noticed that Samer referred to Omar as "habibi." They considered this enough evidence to arrest the two men under the assumption they are homosexual. They called the men’s parents and informed them that their sons were gay. And just for good measure, they made sure the crowded cell of prisoners that Omar and Samer were forced to live with also knew they were homosexuals.

The drug test came back negative but the inhumane torture of Omar and Samer continued regardless. Omar describes how Samer was restrained by the feet and hands and repeatedly punched and kicked. Police submerged his head in cold water while demanding Samer give up the names of drug dealers and users. They continually beat and electrocuted him. And tet's remember: these two men were treated this way for possessing half a gram of hash – and for being accused of being gay.

Whether the two men are gay or whether you think hash should be criminalized is beside the point. There is simply no excuse for the torture these men were subjected to. Places like Guantanamo Bay treat suspected terrorists in a manner remarkably similar to how the security forces in Lebanon treat recreational hash users and suspected homosexuals.

Regardless of what you think about homosexuality or cannabis, we should all agree that every human being, especially ones that have done nothing to harm another human being, should be treated with respect and dignity. Did these men attack someone? Did they kill someone? Did they rape someone? Did they do anything even remotely harmful to anyone? No.

Instead, they were attacked. They were beaten. Their dignity was entirely ignored. And for what?

Omar was fortunate enough to escape the hell he was forced to endure for three weeks, although he continues to suffer rejection and embarrassment from his family. Samer, at the time of the article's publication, remains imprisoned. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk’s office has said they are conducting a full investigation and that torture is not condoned in Lebanon.

So why should we take a break from our doudou shots and Almazas to care about the torture of Samer and Omar? Quite simply, because it could easily happen to anyone of us. I’m certain these two men never imagined they would ever undergo such an ordeal; but if their human rights can be trashed so easily, rest assured yours can too.

You may now resume your careless drinking and partying. Cheers.

[Images via here and here.]

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I love homosexuality people

Kamal Elias on Jul 7, 2015 via web