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Cultural & Social Events (Local, International)

I. International Conferences
WANGO, "Healing a Hurting World"” 21-24/10/2004 Budapest- Hungary
Conference/Training 28/3-1/4/2005 Amman- Jordan
WANGO, "Creating a World Fitting for Children"” 17- 20/11/05 Santo Domingo- Dominican Republic
WANGO, "Ethics & Global Peace: NGO Perspectives" date/11/2007 Toronto- Canada:

President of Society headed on of the sessions, Symposium B: Peace & Development the two key issues human beings seek for a fitful survival. They are interrelated one cannot be achieved without the other. They contain the value of life; peace preserves it & development enhances its kind to fit for the human species. God endowed this species with virtual qualities deserving a qualitative life.
Will & capacity are the tools to foster peace & development.
Women can foster peace & development par excellence.
In the simplest expression describing women role we can say: women perform a complementary role indispensable for an adequate world.
An adequate world means a world of justice & peace with people working for its good.
No doubt men & women intend to achieve a better world to live in, to breed their children & to realize oneself. Nonetheless each one of them plays the role according to his/her personality & endowments.
Women in the pursuit of their objectives are totally sacrificing & honest, this not to say that men are not but the difference lies in each one’s structure.
Women are human creatures destined to play a developmental role complying with their mission, the mission of creation, they are life carriers, so they value life as a preciously as they suffer to make it & thus infinitely to keep it. In other words the basic role of women is fostering peace & development as their innate feature.
When we mention the role of women as fostering peace & development we keep in mind:
- Her role as a “caring for others person”, scientifically women are proved to be caring for others. It was observed among new born babies that baby girls pay attention by turning their heads towards the direction of a crying baby while boys don’t.
- Her role of creating hegemony among her family members & most of the time she’s the mediator between her children & their father, her husband. She brings them closer to each other & makes her best for coordination & understanding which is peace.
- Her attitude in discussing rather than fighting, it’s rare to view women fighting, using weapons or bare hands to convince others by a point of view neither in a developed nor in underdeveloped countries. At the same time women are sharp & decisive.
- Women are not corrupt & never tend to mediocrity when destiny is in question
- To women public interests are as important as family interests thus society, nation & country are personal matters as the family is.

Memorandum to WANGO on the recognition of Governments of the role of NGOs:
Fruitful Recognition
It is the age of NGOs recognition. This is a “Call” to work out a beneficial output from this recognition & make it fruitful. Governments lately admitted that the role of NGOs is essential & they are ready to co-ordinate with them. So it is our golden age & it is inviting to make the best of a permanent useful co-ordination between governmental & nongovernmental organizations.
The issue is global & the concept is gaining momentum.
Earlier NGOs were marginal limited to the equation of capacity & charity or poverty & welfare. In this era their role widened to encompass nearly all domains of life, reaching the domain of businesses. Thanks to the sacrifices, perseverance, hardworking & will that enabled NGOS to rank highly among other domains.
To be realistic, in spite of the progressed status of NGOs they are still faced with obstacles that hinder their performance.
Co-ordination with governments facilitates their mission & enables them to greater accomplishments & further roles mainstreaming in one noble target: “The Good of Humanity”.
This governmental new orientation is an indirect confession that they alone are not capable of social rescue when needed. It is true that governments possess authority & tools but they are usually short of prompt action especially in times of disaster, for example; emergency relief programs, alleviating poverty, illiteracy & disease. Administrative routine, laws & regulations & political complications are there & governments have to abide by & watch. This fact together with the credibility the NGOs gained made the co-ordination indispensable.
You WANGO people were pioneers in promoting this orientation –hopefully it would be considered as paving the way in this direction. The two WANGO conferences that I had the pleasure to attend were opened at the Parliaments of the hosting countries. I would suggest a further step that is organizing the next conference under the title “Co-Ordination between Governmental & Non-Governmental Organizations’. I myself would gladly work for such a conference in Lebanon -or elsewhere- because lately I had the chance on a meeting with the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, to hear from him that NGOs are & will stay a priority during his term.

United Nations, 61ST ANNUAL DPI/NGO CONFERENCE: "Reaffirming Human Rights: The Universal Declaration at 60" 3-6/09/2008 Paris- France:

The Society participated in the United Nations Celebration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Princess Mada Arslan delivered a speech in one of the session on 4/09/2008 at 1:30pm.
On behalf of our Society “Society of Lebanon the Giver” I thank the International Federation of Family Associations of Missing Persons from Armed Conflicts for giving me the chance of addressing you & addressing the United Nations’ conference or rather on calling on United Nations to acknowledge the right of families to know about their missing members from armed conflicts & to request from its member states to implement such resolutions.
When governments fail people turn to the United Nations assuming that the ultimate power is entrusted globally in this organization. The assumption is solid & true; the evidence is here in this conference celebrating the 60th anniversary of Human Rights declaration & also lies in the serious performance throughout the UN’s history.

The topic of this seminar denotes a vital issue causing tremendous suffering to people all over the world especially in my country, Lebanon where numerous families from various regions & sects await in vain for years to know the destiny of their members missing from armed conflicts.

In Lebanon the number of missing persons is around 17,000 who disappeared between 1975 & 1996. Only lately 16,000 (the number is approximate) were indirectly declared dead when the militias of that period denied having any prisoners.

We witnessed intermittently, several funerals where families buried the remains of their long awaited relatives, while others still wait pleading to know. It is an utmost suffering when people stand amidst the way, lost between sadness & hope; shall they grieve the loss or keep waiting hoping to meet again a missing family member?

That is the case of the remaining 700 individuals who are assumed to be imprisoned & still alive. Ever since their disappearance, their families are in continuous search. Most of them keep bouncing among politicians & officials to know their fate.

I’ll speak about some cases from real life:

This woman is claiming her brother’s freedom. She promised her mother who died in distress to carry on the case. He was 17 years old in 1976 when he was kidnapped.

Mrs Eid says: my son Jihad was arrested in 1973, he was 20 years old a university student serving in the military. For a long time she knew nothing about him until a freed prisoner brought her news that he’s still alive in a syrian prison. She even tried to contact some Human rights’ missions & associations when she travelled to Europe on October 13, 1990 in an attempt to get their aid to know anything about her missing son.

Rana Khawand, this beautiful young girl, claims the liberty of her father Botros Khawand who was kidnapped right in front of his house. He was a member of the Phalanges political bureau– a rightist party. Yara was only 4 years old, she studied journalism to work on liberating her father whose existence is still a question. She & her two brothers were brought up by their mother who is tired & helpless after 16 years of continuous search with no result.

Georgette Chamoun passed away recently on Sunday August 17 2008, after 31 years of searching & waiting for her son Joseph. Her friends in the tent attended the funeral & went back to their sit-in hoping not to die before knowing the fate of their loved ones.

The tent you see has been the lodge of those families since 2005 where they claim their right to know & try to remind the public, the government & the international community of their cause for fear their case might be forgotten or overlooked.

This tent is a reservoir of heart-breaking stories, it is also a place of recurring visits from locals & foreigners, officials aiming at boosting their public image & even movie producers looking for inspiring true stories.

The choice of the tent’s location in down town Beirut facing the UN’s headquarters was meant to be the final refuge to lift the banner of a just cause that needs international support.
The movement was only successful in getting the case listed in the United Nation’s annual report in 2005.
Now, a progressive step is needed from us as conferees to advocate & from the UN as the sole international organization & the mother of the World community to forge a UN resolution giving those people in particular & humanity in general the right to know the fate of those missing from armed conflicts.
It is by large a demand to save people from such human sufferings & a credit to the UN for human concern.
Furthermore & as a sequence those families need financial assistance, their economic situation is appalling since the missing member is usually the family’s bread winner.
Those that disappeared left babies & children (who are now grown up girls & boys), wives & parents who depended on them.
In addition, the follow-up search is costly ranging between transport, offering gifts to those who are supposed to know & even bribing the prison wardens & guards to facilitate meeting those missing or imprisoned.

Moreover shameful stories are told about the abuse & violation the women left behind bear. They sometimes have to sacrifice their dignity to get any piece of information however small it was or take a glimpse at their son or brother or father.

Here it is worth to mention that some freed prisoners verify the existence of some of the missing ones in Syrian prisons where they have been detained although the official position of Syrian officials is complete denial.

It is heart-breaking & infuriating to witness such a violation of human rights. No child should have to grow in such life scarring pain, no mother or father should have to die not knowing the fate of their beloved son or daughter, no brother or sister should have to live restlessly pleading officials & non-officials for a hint, & no woman should have her dignity taken from her just because she is right.

Now, you will hear from the head of the Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE) which represents the family association of missing persons. Mr. Ghazi Aad has been struggling & working hard with those families to discover to fate of those missing:


Mr. Ghazi’s speech

Considering:
- The obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations and other international instruments, to promote respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms,
- That the systematic and prolonged practice of enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity,

Recalling the protection afforded to victims of armed conflicts by the Geneva Conventions of 1949,

Having regard:
- To the relevant articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which protects the right to life, the right to liberty, the right not to be subjected to torture and the right not to be arbitrary arrested,

Restating the objective of the open sit-in launched on April 11, 2005 in front of the UN House in Beirut by the families of the Lebanese detainees,

REQUEST the United Nations to live up to its responsibilities and give this problem the utmost concern by adding it to the requirements of the UNSCR 1559 and its implementation and to establish an international commission of investigation with full powers to Investigate into cases of ‘enforced disappearance’ of Lebanese nationals between 1976 & 2005.

 

II. Arab Cultural events
Conference on “Arab Women Parliamentary Performance on  14-18/5/2004 Abou- Dhabi- UAE
Conference on Arab Women Status Abu-Dhabi- UAE

 

III- Honoring the Society
The Society was honored through honoring its President Princess Hayat Arslan on the following occasions:

Borough of Brooklyn-NY 06/11/2007
Under the auspices of the Honorable Consul of Lebanon in New York, Antoine Azzam, The Society of Lebanon the Giver organized an exhibition of Handicrafts and embroidered linens in the Consulate General of Lebanon in New York.
The exhibited items represented the variety & richness of Lebanese handicrafts that embodied Lebanese culture & heritage. The revenue of the event was in the benefit of different charities in Lebanon.
On this occasion the Consul of Lebanon requested the Mayor of Brooklyn to honor the President of the Society Princess Hayat Arslan. In response The Mayor Marty Markowitz issued a Proclamation stating November 6th Princess Hayat Arslan’s day in Brooklyn, New York. His representative Doctor Michel Kassouf handed the proclamation to Princess Arslan in the presence of H.E. the Ambassador of Lebanon in Chile, Mourad Jammal, H.E. the Ambassador of Lebanon in Mexico Nohad Mahmoud and the Permanent delegate of Lebanon to the United Nations H.E. Ambassador Nawaf Salam with other guests and diplomats appointed in New York. Dr Kassouf listed the qualities & beneficial social activities upon which the Mayor issued the Honoring Proclamation.

During the ceremony the Honorable Azzam welcomed the guests and thanked the Mayor for his initiative in favor of the Lebanese women, represented by Princess Hayat Arslan thus honoring Lebanese women in general.

Princess Arslan closed the ceremony thanking all officials and friends for attending the event and noted the solidarity of the Lebanese community in New York. She praised the well-established community there & expressed her admiration to its achievements. Then she thanked the Consul of Lebanon for his warm welcome and greeted the dynamism of his spouse Danielle.


 
   
 

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