Lebanon News

Relatives of hostages up protest against Turkish interests

Families of Lebanese kidnapped in Syria pelt the Turkish Cultural Center with eggs on Monday, April 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The families of the Lebanese kidnapped in Syria disrupted Monday work at the Turkish Cultural Center in Beirut and blocked roads in the capital as part of efforts to pressure Ankara to help secure the release of their loved ones.

The relatives, who have been holding regular sit-ins outside the offices of Turkish Airlines, also pelted the center with eggs and blocked the road leading to it causing a traffic jam in the bustling Downtown area.

Police reopened the road minutes later and pleaded with the protesters to vacate the premises but to no avail.

The families have repeatedly urged Turkey to help secure the release of the nine Lebanese who were kidnapped on May of last year. They argue that the Aleppo town of Azaz, where the kidnapped are being held, is now under the control of rebel groups backed by Ankara.

A Syrian rebel group abducted 11 Lebanese Shiites on May 22 but released two of them later in the year.

Adham Zogheib, the son of one of the hostages, said the fact that the center continued with its work in a normal fashion was provoking for the relatives.

"We don't need their culture or their education,” he added.

Also Monday, a delegation from the families met Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and explained their case and urged him to help "in the ways he deems appropriate."

According to Salam's office, the Beirut lawmaker, who was named on April 6 to form a new government, told the delegation to continue with their movement but within legal guidelines.

He also reassured the relatives that he would use all means to follow up on their case with any Turkish official.

Zogheib, who met Salam during the delegation visit to Msaitbeh, thanked the premier-designate for showing concern.

“The prime minister-designate focused on the humanitarian side of this issue and asked us to continue in this manner and put pressure on all sides,” Zogheib told reporters, adding that he recognized the critical situation in the country and Salam’s inability to make a breakthrough in the case.

"We told the prime minister-designate of some of the things we demand, primarily that [the case] is followed up diplomatically,” he added.





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