I never had respect for the policemen of my country, that and I am a law-abiding citizen who does his best to obey all the laws in my country and respect all the security bodies that aim to ensure stability in this country.
To be clear, let me clarify that when I talk about policemen, I am specifically referring to those thugs that are on the streets in their so-called grey suits, They are the ones technically knows as “Internal Security Forces” or “Kiwa Al Amn Aldakhli - قوى الأمن الداخلي”.
Before I share with you what unbiased human rights organizations think of these official suited thugs, let me share with you some of my own personal experiences with this body.
Last week, in the “No for Parliament Extension – لا للتمديد” protest, I witnessed first-hand how the internal security forces gather all their troops and gear against unarmed peaceful civilians. Not only do they intimidate protesters with their sticks, guns and looks, but they go beyond to release their suppressed manhood and suppressed sexual desires on the protectors. With no form of weapons whatsoever amongst the protesters that day, various young men were injured and hit, and even when the protesters resorted extending a sign of peaceful gathering and having the women at the front lines, various women were pushed and intimidated. I myself had one of the policemen threaten me from behind the metal barricades, take my picture and threaten to find me. When I approached his lieutenant, a man with decorated stars on his shoulders, asking him if it would be acceptable to approach that policeman and explain to him that we come here for him as well, as a Lebanese citizen and explain to him that we are not here to fight wit him, his superior told me: “I beg you not to approach them because I cannot be responsible for what might happen. I can barely handle them myself. Talk to me as much as you want but please stay away from them.” As he finished his sentence, a metal canister of the horns hit his head, probably thrown by one of his subordinates after a protester had thrown it at them.
Today, a few hours before I thought of writing this, I was at neutral in my car waiting for the red light to turn green. A biker policeman, Renegade himself, was to eager to wait for the light to turn green. He pretended to be on a hot pursuit mission, turning his lights and his annoying siren as he stood two cars behind me agitated to be insulted to be waiting on red light. A man of status himself, he asked one of the pedestrians walking by to tell me and the car beside me to move a little so that he could pass. That of course meant that more than 4 cars had to cross the intersection on a red light to allow his majesty to go through and catch all the villains running loose in the streets of Beirut. I was glad that the car next to me didn’t budge, so I held my position as well. A few seconds later, the bus driver behind us came to my open window and said:” The policeman behind is asking you to move so that he could pass.” Having tried to use the law on my side before with uneducated untamed policemen who rule by the law of the jungle and nepotism, I was hesitant to hold my stand, by I knew he would have to get off his bike to get to me himself, so I answered: “I will move only when the light runs green.”Of course the look of the policeman in the rear-view mirror was not a friendly one, in addition to what I could read as cussing words along his lips. Regardless of whether I was wrong or right to not move, this was a policeman asking me to break the traffic laws so that he could get to his next date of chicken sandwich donation a minute earlier.
But that is me. A biased blogger who has his own opinion about a legitimate official body of national security. what does the human rights watch (HRW) in Lebanon, an unbiased international organization, have to say about our so-called Lebanese police. HRW Lebanon yesterday released a 6-page report on cases of abuse by the Lebanese Security Forces, with a title that could not be clearer on the mafia-style that this body and its trained men use in this country. The report is titled “It’s Part of the Job: Ill-treatment and Torture of Vulnerable Groups in Lebanese Police Stations”.
You can of course go through the report linked above to read detailed testimonials of abuse, and I will share some thoughts and testimonials below for those who lack the time of the interested to skim through a 66-page report.
“Abuse is common in Lebanon’s police stations, but it is even worse for people like drug users or sex workers,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The abuse of prisoners, especially the most vulnerable people in society, isn’t going to stop until Lebanon ends the culture of impunity in its police force.”
Twenty-one of the 25 women interviewed who had been arrested for suspected drug use or sex work told Human Rights Watch that police had subjected them to sexual violence or coercion, ranging from rape to offering them “favors” – cigarettes, food, more comfortable conditions in their cells, or even a more lenient police report – in exchange for sex.
“Soumaya,” a sex worker who had been in pretrial detention in Baabda prison for nine months when she spoke to Human Rights Watch, said that it was expected that police officers would try to have sex with women arrested for prostitution:
It’s normal. They don’t see us as human beings. They know that we are poor, that we probably don’t have families, and that no one asks about us. We’re easy to take advantage of. I was arrested three times in the past five years. Every time a police officer would come to the cell and try something with me. At first I protested, I fought back, but then I understood that it’s useless. If you want to be treated well, you have to have sex with them. If you do that, they will take care of you. Otherwise you could get beaten, insulted, even raped. If you let them sleep with you, they might even help you get out without charges.
“Gharam” told Human Rights Watch that she was raped by a police officer in the Gemmayze police station in February 2012. She was arrested after police detained her daughter for sex work and charged her with facilitating her daughter’s prostitution activities:
I stayed in Gemmayze station for three days and they treated me and my daughter very badly…. During my time there one of the officers came to me at night and told me that if I didn’t let him sleep with me, I’d go to jail for 10 years and my daughter for even longer. I was so scared that I let him. The next day I was transferred to the Baabda station where I spent another three days before going to Baabda prison. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I was too scared. He had threatened me to stay quiet.
“Nadim” told Human Rights Watch that he spent two days in Hobeish police station in October 2010 after police arrested him when they could not find his brother, whom they suspected of drug dealing. When they found no evidence that Nadim had engaged in drug dealing himself, he says, they changed the charge to homosexuality. Nadim was repeatedly beaten, threatened, and subjected to an anal examination:
The intimidation and the beatings never stopped [in Hobeish]…. [An officer] asked me why I had messages and names of gay men on my phone, I asked him whether it was illegal to speak to gay men. He hit me again so hard my eye split and I began bleeding. I begged him to stop hitting my face but this egged him on further and he hit me even harder. He forced me to sign a confession that I have sex with men, all the while hurling punches and abuse at me. He then made me take off all my clothes and looked at me, told me I’m a faggot, insulted me, threatened me.
The next day, two more men came in and interrogated me again. By this time the drug issue was dropped, the case was now about homosexuality…When I told the interrogating officer that I was forced to confess to having sex under duress, he got a thick electricity cable and whipped my palms. He then said that he would get a forensic doctor to check me …He kept intimidating me, trying to get me to confess again…The exam turned out negative, and so they had no choice but to release me without charge.
What do we do when those who we pay for to protect us us, make us feel safe on our own streets and homes are the ones abusing us, intimidating us and raping the women of our country?
Of course I am not asking here to not to abide by the rule of the security forces and to revolt against them. I still will, as a law-abiding citizen, abide by their rule on the ground when their rule abides by the law. But it is about time that this body starts a serious hotline for complaints, that it trains its officers and policemen to respect citizens so that they be respected by them. We are on the verge of serious internal armed clashes in this country, and if the citizens have no respect for the policemen, they will inevitable turn to personal weapons to protect themselves if not use them against their oppressors, the policemen themselves.