Families of Kidnapped Pilgrims to Stage Protest near Presidential Palace Tuesdayإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Head of the follow-up committee of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria Sheikh Abbas Zgheib said that their families will probably hold a sit-in on Tuesday near the Baabda Palace to protest the negligence of some officials, he told Voice of Lebanon Radio on Monday.
“The families will hold a sit-in near the presidential palace to protest the negligence of some officials in resolving the problem,” said Zgheib, but assured that the step does not target President Michel Suleiman.
Moreover, Awad Ibrahim, one of the 11 pilgrims who was released in September, told VDL: “The protest near the presidential palace was not confirmed.”
He added: “Abu Ibrahim (one of the kidnappers of the pilgrims) contacted me on Sunday and informed me that the case of the abducted men in Syria has been closed.”
He assured that the plans to take this step are not “politically backed.”
For his part, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel slammed any link between the meeting of the ministerial committee, which he said was scheduled 10 days ago, and the protests and escalated measures taken by the families of the captives.
“The meeting of the ministerial committee, to be held at the Baabda Palace, was scheduled ten days ago. There is no link between the activity of the families and the meeting,” he told al-Joumhouria daily on Monday.
“The meeting aims to tackle the latest developments achieved in the case in light of the strenuous efforts exerted by some parties to close that file,” he said.
The families of the pilgrims staged on Sunday a sit-in in front of the Turkish Embassy in Lebanon, vowing to “take escalatory measures against Turkish interests in Lebanon at the beginning of the new year.”
They held Turkey responsible for the ongoing “humanitarian crime” against the pilgrims, without ruling out the possibility of resorting to kidnappings to resolve the problem.
Commenting on the threats made by the families, Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz told An Nahar daily Monday: "I do not understand what our Lebanese friends want through these protests. We have advised them earlier to be more patient and cautious, but we reiterate that Turkey is not responsible for the kidnapping, but we are seeking to find a solution.”
Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by the rebel Free Syrian Army in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo on May 22 as they were returning home from a pilgrimage in Iran.
One abductee was released in August in what his captors said was a “goodwill” gesture and another was released in September.