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Transitional Justice and Social Movements in Post-War Lebanon: The Families of the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared of the Lebanese Civil War


In this thesis I will be adressing the issue of the missing and the forcibly disappeared of the Lebanese Civil war. The main issue at hand has been the state’s unwillingness to address this issue, arguing that dicussing the war nationally or exhuming mass graves would see a return to conflict in Lebanon. This, however, is a cover for the fact that the post-war government is comprised of those militias who carried out many of the disappearances and wish to avoid bringing this to the public spotlight. Since the war’s end the state has pushed a policy of “amnesia”, hoping people will simply forget and move on. This story looks at the challenge the families of the disappeared have faced from and have given to a hostile state apparatus in their quest for truth and advancement of justice processes. Methods for data gathering were done through five months of fieldwork in Lebanon, attending and documenting events put on by the families of the missing and disappeared in 5 locations throughout Lebanon bringing awareness to Law 105 passed in November 2018; and by international organization, such as the International Commission of the Red Cross, setting up an interactive tour showing the public their process of identifying the disappeared. Other methods were personal conversations with family members and representatives of international organizations and local Lebanese NGO’s. Finally, one month of participation and documentation of the October 17th revolution, focusing on the protests in downtown Beirut. In my thesis I show that justice is significantly delayed in Lebanon, but it is still ongoing and the families of the disappeared have been instrumental in advancing this process, achieving a string of small victories over the years not just exclusively for the missing and disappeared, but for the wider Lebanese arena by being at the forefront of the challenge towards state sponsored amnesia. They and their cause have acted as a hub for, and inspiration for Lebanese civil society and action over the decades.

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