Solidarity with Soha Bechara: Lebanese resistance struggler detained and deported from Greece

We publish below the report of Samidoun on the expulsion of Soha Bechara. It needs to be corrected on one point. There was never any serious intention or possibillity of constructing an EastMed pipeline. The whole project was, from the very beginning, a provocation meant to increase Greek – Turkish tensions and increase the dependence of both Greece and Turkey from Israel. Now the project is almost officially dead.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the Greek government and European Union’s denial of entry to Souha Bechara, the Lebanese resistance struggler, former political prisoner and Communist activist. As she traveled from Beirut through Athens to Switzerland, she was stopped in the Athens airport by Greek officials, detained for multiple hours and deported to Lebanon, on the grounds of posing a “threat to national security” of unnamed “European countries.” We express our strongest solidarity with Souha Bechara and view this attack as part and parcel of the European Union’s escalating assault on Palestinian and Arab resistance forces, solidarity movements and communities, inside and outside Europe.

This unlawful detention and deportation is an attack on a torture survivor and a symbol of the Lebanese national resistance and of the political prisoners’ movement. It also comes in flagrant violation of treaties, with the force of the highest law of the land, between Switzerland and the European Union guaranteeing each other’s citizens free passage. Souha Bechara is a Swiss and Lebanese dual citizen who has lived and worked in Switzerland with her family for decades; she previously spent time in France and has spoken at events throughout Europe. She was on a summer vacation in Beirut with her family when she was suddenly faced with a Schengen block on spurious “security” grounds. After being deported to Beirut, she was able to return to Switzerland via a direct flight.

The deportation and “security” political ban imposed on Soha Bechara in Greece and in Europe also comes as the Lebanese people celebrate the 17th anniversary of their 2006 victory over the Israeli invasion that assaulted the south of Lebanon and was turned back by the Lebanese resistance. The detention and deportation of Souha Bechara by Greece and the European Union comes precisely as Hezbollah and fellow resistance forces commemorate this momentous occasion in Lebanon, a victory that cannot and will not be overturned by the attacks of European imperialism and Zionism.

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The Lebanese Communist Party stated, “This dangerous precedent constitutes a flagrant attack against a Lebanese national heroine who contributed to achieving liberation and freedom for the Lebanese. She spent 10 years in captivity in the Khiam detention camp, which is famous for its inhumane torture practices that were documented by international organizations, including the International Red Cross. Instead of the Greek government resorting to arresting the Zionist officials who established the Khiam detention center and supervised the torture of Suha Bishara and thousands of Lebanese, we see it pursuing and arresting this heroine.”

The LCP in France further stated that this action by Greek officials “goes hand in hand with the interests of the Israeli enemy in pursuing resistance fighters, harassing them, and silencing all voices that expose the practices of the Israeli enemy against the detainees in its prisons.”

Soha Bechara joined the Lebanese national resistance in 1986, fighting back against the Zionist invasion and occupation of south Lebanon and the imposition of its proxy Lebanese force, the South Lebanon Army, directed by the fascist Antoine Lahhad. In 1988, Bechara attempted to assassinate Lahhad, injuring him and paralyzing his left arm. She was kidnapped by Lahhad’s security men to a Zionist dungeon, where she was tortured and beaten under interrogation before being returned to Lebanon and to the Israeli-occupied, SLA-run notorious Khiam prison, held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell and subjected to electroshock torture, where she remained for 10 years. She was released in 1998 following an extensive Lebanese and international campaign, less than two years before the liberation of Khiam prison and all of the south of Lebanon by the victorious Lebanese resistance. She later published a book about her experiences, translated in English as Resistance: My Life for Lebanon.

After her release, she spent time and studied in France and then moved to Switzerland, where she married and has two children. She has remained a tireless advocate for the liberation of the Arab homeland and for the liberation of the over 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Zionist jails.

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The sudden denial of entry to Soha Bechara, and her labeling as a “security threat” by an as-yet-undisclosed European Union member state, reflects not only the Greek government’s complicity with European imperialism and Zionist colonialism but also the escalating attacks throughout the EU against Palestinian and Arab resistance and solidarity. Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations are listed on the EU’s “terrorist” list, despite the fact that they defend their land and people and fight for liberation from an illegitimate colonial occupier. European and particularly French interference in Lebanese internal politics escalates by the day, while France continues to detain Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese communist and resistance fighter, in French prisons for the past 38 years. Souha Bechara herself participated in multiple activities for Georges Abdallah’s release over the years of the campaign for his liberation.

Souha Bechara in support of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and the campaign to free Georges Abdallah

Germany routinely engages in official state incitement against the Palestinian and Arab communities in the country, as Berlin police ban the commemoration of the Nakba and of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, deport Palestinian writers and activists like Khaled Barakat and torture survivors like Rasmea Odeh, and city officials tour Arab neighbourhoods with the Israeli ambassador to denounce Samidoun Deutschland’s postering for Palestine. In France, as Georges Abdallah remains jailed for 38 years, activists for justice in Palestine like the Collectif Palestine Vaincra (a member of the Samidoun Network) are targeted for official dissolution by the Macron government, alongside environmentalist and anti-fascist organizations.

Repression is also escalating in the Netherlands, which denied entry to and deported Barakat and Charlotte Kates, Samidoun’s international coordinator at Germany’s request prior to the March for Return and Liberation, before signing a new $300 million arms deal; and in Spain, where protesters at a university who were threatened by an Israeli security agent’s gun are themselves being criminally charged. European states issue empty critiques of the most blatant fascists in the Zionist regime, like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, while continuing to empower the Zionist project with free trade, security coordination and arms deals.

Greece has been a particular focus of this escalating repressive and military alliance between the European Union and the Zionist project. After EU policies economically devastated Greece, the country is now pursuing, with full EU backing, a so-called “EastMed” pipeline based on the importation to Europe of stolen Palestinian natural gas in a joint “Israeli-Greek” pipeline. In 2023, Greece and the Zionist regime signed a new military cooperation agreement, with “58 activities, of which 25 are joint exercises, 15 are joint trainings and 18 others that will take place in both countries.” Is the detention and deportation of Souha Bechara the latest Israeli-Greek military cooperation?

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These European states that are repressing Palestinian organizing, labeling Palestinian and Lebanese resistance as “terrorism” and detaining and deporting Souha Bechara are the same imperialists that have unconditionally supported the Zionist colonization of Palestine since its foundation more than a century ago.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network condemns the detention and deportation of Soha Bechara. We call upon all supporters of Palestine, of Lebanon, and of Arab and regional resistance to not only campaign for justice for Souha Bechara but also to celebrate the victory of the Lebanese resistance over Zionist colonialism and invasion 17 years ago today by demanding the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah from French prisons and that Lebanese resistance organizations, including Hezbollah, are removed from the EU’s “terrorist” list. From the south of Lebanon to Palestine, deportation and repression will never stop the struggle to free all political prisoners and liberate the land and people from Zionism, imperialism and reaction! 

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