Remember 18:07 and Light a Flame for Beirut

4 August, 2021

Jordan Elgrably

The clocks stopped at 18:07 a year ago today when Bahamut struck Beirut.

One year after the Beirut port explo­sion in which over 200 were killed, some 7,000 sus­tained injuries and 10,000 Beirutis lost their homes — to say noth­ing of the blast’s eco­nom­ic impact — very lit­tle has been done to address the calami­ty. Who was respon­si­ble? When will there be resti­tu­tion? What lessons must Lebanon draw from this unimag­in­able dis­as­ter? The coun­try was already in an eco­nom­ic cri­sis, marked by the Octo­ber 2019 Rev­o­lu­tion. Life was impos­si­bly dif­fi­cult before the blast: the ques­tion is, how is Lebanon mov­ing forward?

It’s a small ges­ture of sol­i­dar­i­ty, but the Mont­pel­li­er Bar Asso­ci­a­tion in con­cert with its nation­al affil­i­ate, the CNB (Con­férence nationale des bar­reaux) and the Euro­pean Bars Fed­er­a­tion, has flown in attor­neys to show sup­port with the lawyers of Lebanon by join­ing them in Beirut.

After a recent meet­ing with the young lawyers of Lebanon on the com­mit­ment of lawyers to the peo­ple and the rule of law — dur­ing which CNB pres­i­dent Jérôme Gavau­dan said that lawyers are a “watch­dog of the rule of law and democ­ra­cy,” the French del­e­ga­tion, along­side the Lebanese lawyers, went in robes from the Audi­to­ri­um of the Mai­son de l’Avocat to the Beirut Palace of Jus­tice. This may have been pure­ly a sym­bol­ic march, but in the pres­ence of the Pres­i­dent of the Bar Asso­ci­a­tion of the Lebanese cap­i­tal, Mel­hem Kha­laf, French attor­neys denounced Lebanese cor­rup­tion and called for jus­tice for vic­tims of the explosion.

Fam­i­lies of the blast’s vic­tims con­tin­ue to fight for jus­tice, but as France 24 report­ed on July 31st, “A year after the explo­sion, in which 218 peo­ple were killed and a fur­ther 7,000 injured, none of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies in Lebanon have been asked to give wit­ness state­ments. Nor have they received any form of offi­cial apol­o­gy or even been con­tact­ed by Lebanese authorities.”

Mean­while, as Human Rights Watch report­ed recent­ly, 25 mem­bers of Con­gress called on the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion to sup­port a Unit­ed Nations-led inves­ti­ga­tion into the caus­es for the cat­a­stroph­ic blast.

— • —

The bevy of lawyers walked to the head­quar­ters of the fire depart­ment and the port of Beirut, where the dev­as­ta­tion of August 4, 2020 is still plain­ly vis­i­ble. Present on the march were Dominique Attias, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Bars Fed­er­a­tion; Jérôme Gavau­dan, Pres­i­dent of the CNB; Hélène Fontaine, Pres­i­dent of the Con­férence des Bâton­niers; Marie-Aimée Pey­ron, vice-pres­i­dent of the CNB; Nico­las Bedel de Buzareingues, Pres­i­dent of the Mont­pel­li­er Bar Asso­ci­a­tion; Serge Dey­gas, Pres­i­dent of the Lyon Bar Asso­ci­a­tion; Vin­cent Mau­rel, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pres­i­dent of the Hauts-de-Seine Bar Asso­ci­a­tion; Mar­tin Pradel, Pres­i­dent of the Com­mis­sion on the Prac­tice of Law of the Con­seil Nation­al des Bar­reaux; and Amine Faraj, mem­ber of the Mont­pel­li­er Bar.

Com­mit­ted to the vic­tims of the dis­as­ter, the lawyers of Lebanon are appeal­ing to all the bar lead­ers of the world to illu­mi­nate the cour­t­hous­es with the col­ors of Lebanon for this first fate­ful anniver­sary of the event, and Montpellier’s Amine Faraj declared that indeed, today, “All the bar asso­ci­a­tions of France will light a flame before the flag of Lebanon at pre­cise­ly 18:07, the local time of the explo­sion, along with a ban­ner that reads ‘Jus­tice and peace for Lebanon.’”

TMR’s debut issue, pub­lished on Sep­tem­ber 15, 2020, was devot­ed to Beirut.


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