Friday, September 17, 2010

Sept 17 - Remembering Sabra and Shatilla...

While we celebrate our Sept 16th Malaysia Day, I could not erase my mind of what happened today, exactly 28 years ago in Lebanon. Sept 17, 1982 was when the Israeli-backed Christian Phalangist ambushed Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps south of Beirut, killing about 3,500 people, mostly the defenseless women and children.

Twenty eight years ago, a scene of unspeakable horror rocked the rubble strewn alleys of Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps as vengeance vied with naked lust in a massive display of human malice illuminated for the Israel Defense Force (IDF) overseers of this massacre with flares that provided an unobstructed and panoramic view for Israeli Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon and his Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan.

They were watching from the seven story Kuwaiti embassy which provided logistical support for their Phalangist allies as they massacred for 36 to 48 hours the hapless Palestinians imprisoned in the camps.

The number of casualties was more than that of the Sept 11, 2001 extremist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. However, the Americans want the whole world to remember the date while Sept 17 seemed to have been forgotten. Actually, the West wanted it to be forgotten!

A young journalist then, I arrived in Beirut from Baghdad six days after the massacre. I had been in Iraq for about three weeks covering the war when news about Sabra and Shatilla hit the headlines. It was two days before I flew back to KL via Bangkok when I managed to get a Baghdad-Beirut-Istanbul-Bangkok-KUL reroutes.

I wept like a baby on my first sight of the still-unattended-to mutilated bodies. The scent of the decays didnt bother me much as the shocks were unbearable. I told an Indonesian journalist who was with me from Baghdad, Petrus Suryadi that the massacres would remain a forever shame for the perpetrators. Suryadi, who is a Christian himself, agreed. (I wonder where he is now. He was with Kompas).

And until today, the whole world keeps silence on Sabra and Shatilla. I dont know why but they were very quick at blaming the Muslim terrorists in the Sept 11 attacks. Nothing has been done to prosecute the perpetrators before the international justice.

It was 28 years ago that I saw images of butchered Palestinians, piled up like sacks one over the other. I saw images of murdered men, women, children and elderly filling the streets. I saw women crying and shouting and cursing. I saw Sabra and Shatila.

I think of their pain, their suffering and of their fear. I think of 62 years of murder, 62 years of terror and 62 years of Zionism occupying Palestine and threatening global peace.

It was in Sabra and Shatilla that I understood for the first time what it means to mourn, what it feels like to lose someone, how much it hurts to see someone lying in their blood, heard the stories of the their last minutes and listen to the screams of those who survived.

What can be said 28 years later? It is, after all, but an incident in the horrors of sixty years stretching from the middle of the 20th century into the second decade of the 21st. It is an icon of American and Israeli horror, a burial of thousands destroyed savagely and forgotten while a symphony of hypocrisy extolling our virtues buries the reality.

Those who died never existed, their sons and daughters never existed, their dreams and aspirations never existed, the fruit of their loins never blossomed to feel the heat of the sun, the coolness of the water, the fruit of the tree of life. We the indifferent cannot accept their existence nor recognize it lest we accept as well our guilt in their deaths

Returning to Sabra and Shatilla would be an act of retribution, an act that gives voice to the dead that suffered there, to accept responsibility for the horrors we allowed to happen there, to seek forgiveness of those who lost their lives there and cannot ever live those lives again nor see the sun rise or hear the baby’s cry or know the laughter of their children or weep at the loss of a mother or father … their voices have been silenced forever, yet they echo throughout the ages how vicious is the soul of humankind to remain silent and indifferent to their brothers and sisters in death...

also read Big Dog's piece here


Anonymous said...

sila lihat juga kisah melalui pengalaman dr. ang swee chai,("from beirut to jurusalem"), seorang dr. pakar othopedic asal dari pulau pinang, dibesarkan di singapura dan berhijirah ke enland dengan suami. menyertai program sukarelawan ke lebenon. di tempatkan di kem sabra n shatila ketika pembunuhan beramai2 warga palestin yang tak berdosa angkara dayus nya negara2 Islam gagal mempertahan mereka. Negara kita harus pelajari kesengsaraaan rakyat Palestin dalam buangan. pihak media tidak akan pick-up berita2 yang tuan ceritakan kerana nilai kureng... kalau bab hiburan berkajang2 muka surat n berhari2 berita sama keluar..orang2 kita pergi sana untuk seketika balik dah jadi wira..panggil media coverage untuk politcal mileage.. sukarelawan2 malaysia yang pergi senyap2 tu yang saya tabik, pergi Lillahitaala... wuallahuaklam.

ahmed najef, sidon said...

you are right, sir. the americans and the west want sept 11 to be remembered forever. they want justice, they want those involved be condemned to death, they want to use it as a ticket to make war with the muslim world, and they want the muslims to fall within their political domain.

sept 17 of sabra and shatilla is insignificant to them, those massacred were the ones they called refugees of no man's land, the people whom they made victims by supporting the zionist and the people whom they treated like animals in the camps.

where is justice for the 3,500 killed in the two camps? the whole world has done nothing ever since.

i am a palestinian who lost a mother, a brother and 4 sisters in the carnage. and who is there to stand for us?

the whole system is corrupted by the americans, the british and israel. what is left for us is just the bad memories and nightmare of the past. who is sharing our sorrow?

thank you for this posting. you are our brother, may allah bless you and your family.

ahmed najef

firasat said...

that's the double standard we will have to live with.

the americans always think they are the greatest


Anonymous said...

nicely written, bro.

i am deeply moved.

may god bless the dead... amin

captain said...

still, we dont blame all christians for the massacre but the phalangist milita. however, the west were fast at labeling islam as a religion of terror after sept 11, 2001.

bloody hell!

kiswah said...

anak haram israel dan amerikalah dalang pembunuhan beramai-ramai tu selepas presiden bashir gemayel dibunuh.

hanya kerana pembunuhnya orang palestin, dua khemah pelarian jadi mangsa kekejaman mereka!

Anonymous said...

the world stood silence over sabra and chatila but made a hell of a noise over sept 11.

the US controls the world, arent they?

captain said...

inilah antara episod kemanusiaan yang paling menyayat hati dalam sejarah manusia moden.

selagi amerika dn israel tidak dipisahkan, selagi itulah dunia akan huru hara dan setiap pembunuhan serta penindasan yang mereka lakukan bersama akan dihalalkan oleh bangsa-bangsa bersatu!

dr shah said...


apa jadi dengan buku yang kau nak tulis pasal semua pengalaman kau di luar negara, terutama di medan perang?

aku yakin ramai akan minat membacanya.


one heart said...

what has the world done?


in fact, they put the blame on the dead refugees!

Wake UP! said...

American Government are the world's biggest terrorist who label others as terrorists.

Criminals, homosexuals and gangsters will defend their own.

hajar said...

allah akan melaknat mereka yang melakukannya. biarpun sudah 28 tahun berlalu, umat islam dan palestin tidak akan melupakannya.

terima kasih kepada sdr kerana mengingatkan kami kembali.

latex said...

no religion will tolerate what they had done!

the killers will be doomed!

rossa said...

mr jai,

i am envious of your vast experience. hope u could write more.


ps... pls answer my mail

Anonymous said...




schenker78 said...

Palestine are terrorist too....

Let whole of this Christian and Al Qaeda and Hamas go to HELL, and let the rest of live in peace.....

Anonymous said...

I am American and I am sharing your sorrow. Also, I do not and never did blame Islam for the Sept 11 attacks. Not every American feels the way you say we do. Salam Alaikum.