Posted by Joshua on Saturday, December 16th, 2006
"The Story of My Arrest and Accusation" – by Michel Kilo
This article originally appeared in Arabic on "Levant News"
Summary and Translation by Joe Pace
for "Syria Comment"
Dec. 16, 2006
The article begins with Michel Kilo, Syria's most articulate opposition member, accusing the authorities of “misleading public opinion with the delusion that there is a terrifying conspiracy, with hidden threads, and that I am plotting it and that I am its center.” Kilo was arrested in May 2006 after signing the "Beirut-Damascus Declaration" and having led the Syrian opposition's attempts for unify its ranks.
His interrogators grilled him about the Beirut-Damascus Declaration. He says that they were polite and courteous at the branch and said that “my presence in the [security branch] did not detract from my value as a political, national thinker and as an intellectual known for integrity.” True to his nationalist credentials, he says that his intentions were to better relations between Syria and Lebanon to prevent Israel and America from exploiting the rift. “I told the interrogators in the security [branch] that an essential element of the declaration which cannot be overlooked focuses on the praising of Syrian-Lebanese cooperation which led to the end of the Israeli occupation of the south, and the signatories demand that neither country become a pathway or headquarters against the other, and their insistence on unified efforts to liberate the Golan and all remaining occupied Lebanese land, and solidify the Syrian-Lebanese relationship…which would ensure their unity and make them immune from foreign penetration, destruction, or weakening.”
Kilo recounts some of the back-and-forth in the interrogation. They said that the Zionists and America supported the position outlined in Declaration since the March 14 contingent supported it. Kilo responds: Washington and Tel Aviv want to drive a rift between Syria and Lebanon whereas the Declaration calls for the opposite. They accused Kilo of siding with outside powers, noting the similarities between Resolution 1680 and the Declaration. Kilo replies that any similarities are coincidental and that his purpose is anathema to the West’s since the West fears the very unity for which Kilo calls.
He mentions that Professor Marwan al-Luji, the public prosecutor in Damascus forced four of the signers to sign a statement saying: “Michel Kilo agreed with Khaddam regarding the declaration in exchange for his immediate release.” On June 11, 2006, an article appeared in Ath-Thawra claiming that the investigation proved that he had met with Marwan Hamaada in Cyprus and took money to sign the Declaration. Kilo sent a letter to the newspaper contesting the story, but the newspaper refused to publish it. He tried to raise a suit, but the public prosecutor refused.
The court ordered Michel’s release but the public prosecutor fabricated another case to keep him in prison and has prevented his defense team from contesting it. Despite being publicly accused of opening up channels of communications with Khaddam, the prosecutor has yet to issue that charge, or any other justifying his continued detention. Writes Kilo: “I told the judge of the second criminal court that I was being detained on one charge and being tried for another, an undeclared charge. I demanded that they charge me with contacting Khaddam or whomever…” in order to contest it. He reaffirms that the Declaration was for and by intellectuals and that it is neither allied with nor beholden to any party or political trend. “It is not a declaration of incitement, but one of reconciliation whose sole purpose is to secure the Syrian-Lebanon relationship on proper grounds and repair a basis for Arab relations anew.”
He points out the irony that they would accuse him of cooperating with Khaddam when he had written articles lambasting him when he was still Vice President and was in turn threatened with imprisonment. He recalls that he spoke out against Khaddam’s group at a Temporary Committee for the Damascus Declaration meeting and called him a “threat to the opposition because he moves the center of work and decision making outside of Syria.”
He says that the Beirut-Damascus Declaration is not the reason for his arrest. He says that the authorities are aware that he did not contact any hostile elements, that they have the recordings of the Committee meetings sessions evidencing his mistrust of Khaddam, and that he has never called for the initiation of hostilities against Syria. The reason is that “there are those who want to take revenge on me because I am a symbol of the opposition, rational and socially accepted, and because I focused my efforts on succeeding in building a vision based on shared ground.”