Relatives of Lebanese held in Syria block workers



SOUNDBITE 1 - Adham Zogheib (man), son of one of the nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped nearly a year ago in Syria (Arabic, 22 sec):

"Nine of our people have been kidnapped and we are telling the world that there are one million Syrians in our country, whether refugees, workers or shop owners. We won't accept anymore that our families are kidnapped while their families are working and living here normally. No, the siutation is not normal at all. As long as our families are still kidnapped, we won't allow their families to live a normal life in Lebanon."

SOUNDBITE 2 - Syrian man who works in the Pepsi factory in Lebanon (man, Arabic, 11 sec):

"I work at Pepsi. We wanted to go to work this morning but they stopped us. They treated us with respect and did not assault us."

SOUNDBITE 3 - Abdo (man), Syrian who has a clothing shop in Hay El Sollom (Arabic, 19 sec):

"I have a clothing shop here in Hay El Sollom in the southern suburbs (of Beirut). The families of the Lebanese abductees are putting pressure on us. My shop has been closed for the past 10 days. We beg the kidnappers to release the detainees."

- MS of a Lebanese civillian telling a Syrian bus driver: "Tell the passengers to get out of the bus and go back. It's forbidden for you to work"

- MS of students getting out of the bus

- VAR of Lebanese civillians checking cars for Syrian workers

- VAR of Lebanese Army in the area

- VAR of Pepsi factory, where one of the Syrians who was stopped works (voxpop 3)

- VAR of shops which are rented by Syrians in Hay El Sollom in the southern suburbs of Beirut (the X on the shops were put by Lebanese saying that these shops are for Syrians and therefore won't open again)

- VAR of Syrian workers near the shops

- VAR of Hay El Sollom streets




Relatives of Lebanese held in Syria block workers

BEIRUT, April 10, 2013 (AFP) - The families of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped nearly a year ago in Syria are stopping Syrian workers in Beirut from going to work in a bid to put pressure on those holding their relatives.

On Wednesday, an AFP reporter saw around a dozen relatives, men and women, stop cars at an intersection in an industrial area on the outskirts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of Shiite Syrian regime ally Hezbollah.

Unarmed men posted on the route sent back drivers and Syrian workers aboard minibuses after verifying their identities, explaining that their gesture was a bid to draw attention to the plight of their relatives.

They also ejected a group of Lebanese schoolchildren from a bus driven by a Syrian, ordering him to turn back.

"We know what we're doing isn't great, but we are so desperate," said Inaya Zogheib, the daughter of one of the Lebanese hostages being held in Syria.

"We have nothing personal against the Syrians, they've have lived among us for 30 years," adds Mona Termos, whose husband Ali is another of the hostages.

"But while our relatives are being held in Syria, we won't allow them to have their livelihoods," she says.

"My husband managed a supermarket, and now my two daughters have left university to keep the family afloat."

A group of Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped in May 2012 in northern Syria's Aleppo province as they returned from a pilgrimage in Iran. The women in the group and two men have been released.

The kidnapping was claimed by a man who identified himself as Abu Ibrahim and says he is a member of the rebel Free Syrian Army, but the opposition group denies any involvement in the abductions.

Thousands of Syrians have flocked to Lebanon for decades to find employment in jobs that pay better than those available in their country, which has been ravaged for the past two years by a brutal civil war.

Since the conflict began, more than 400,000 Syrians have also sought refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, putting pressure on the small country's resources and creating tensions with local residents in parts of the country.