A Syrian refugee in Lebanon died yesterday after being severely beaten by a Lebanese soldier, according to Syrian news agency Zaman Al-Wasl.
Mohamed Abdul Jawad Wais, 46, was attacked in Bekaa Valley close to the Syrian border on Sunday when the father of eight was taking one of his children home. He reportedly stopped his car in a busy road to allow the child to leave the car, prompting a soldier, identified as Abudlatif Zaitouni, to approach and shout at him. Upon learning that Wais was Syrian, the soldier reportedly retrieved a baton from his car and proceeded to beat him on his head several times.
Wais was working as a driver in a Lebanese nursing school in the town of Al-Sweiri. He had fled from the Syrian border town of Qusayr which is currently controlled by Hezbollah militia. He died yesterday in hospital after spending three days in intensive care according to local activists.
The attack is one of several that have taken place in Lebanon recent months, amid increased discriminatory rhetoric and violence towards Syrian refugees from locals. Authorities have also raided refugees’ homes and deported those they deem suspicious.
Last week international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Lebanese government’s expulsion of hundreds of Syrian refugees from their temporary homes in the country in a new report “Our Homes Are Not For Strangers”.
“At least 13 municipalities in Lebanon have forcibly evicted at least 3,664 Syrian refugees from their homes and expelled them from the municipalities, apparently because of their nationality or religion,” the report stated, adding that another 42,000 remain at risk of eviction.
HRW officials interviewed some 57 Syrian affected by the recent evictions, as well as municipal officials and legal experts, noting that violence was often used to force refugees from their residences.
“Municipalities have no legitimate justification for forcibly evicting Syrian refugees if it amounts to nationality-based or religious discrimination,” Bill Frelick, HRW’s director for refugee rights and the author of the report said, referring to the fact that most of the municipalities involved in forcibly evicting and expelling Syrian refugees were predominantly populated by Christians.
“Lebanese leaders should curb rhetoric that encourages or condones forced evictions, expulsions, and other discriminatory and harassing treatment of refugees in Lebanon,” Frelick said.