Anti-Assad activist faces deportation from Lebanon

A protester in Beirut opposing deportations from Lebanon holds a sign in Arabic reading "A safe return is impossible while Assad is present"

As Lebanon toughens its stance on migration, a high-profile Assad opponent is facing deportation despite the danger he and his family will endure should he return to Syria, Middle East Monitor reported on March 11. 

Syrian activist Sheikh Jumaa Lehib was handed a deportation order at the beginning of last month by the Lebanese General Security as he went to renew his residency in Lebanon. 

Tens of thousands of political dissidents have been arrested under the Assad regime since 2011 when the incessant civil war broke out as a result of the under-scrutiny strongman’s shutdown of pro-democracy manifestations. 

Despite Lehib’s registered and recognised status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), he has been given until April 6 to depart Lebanon. 

Lebanon is home to around 1.5 million Syrians, the second highest worldwide after Turkey. Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi controversially said in October 2023 that those coming from the war-torn country were “threatening” Lebanon’s demographics and identity. 

READ: More Syrians commiting suicide after Lebanese deportation order

An unapologetic critic of the Syrian supremo, Mr Lehib works as a head researcher for the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, a liberal Kurdish party which saw its founder Mashaal Tammo being assassinated in 2011 by armed terrorists. 

Regarding his deportation, the activist said, “I am wanted by the political security directorate, and my name is still present on the list of wanted people. I have a wife and five kids, there is a lot of danger to all of us if I am deported”. 

Syrians given a deportation order by Lebanese authorities, face persecution and are at best threatened with hefty prison sentences and at worst are subject to death threats by the Syrian regime. 

Earlier this month, four Syrian prisoners held at the notorious Roumieh Prison were pictured attempting to commit suicide after finding out that they would be shipped back to Syria. 

Lebanon’s fresh immigration law means that Syrians who have committed a crime in Lebanon are sent back once serving their sentence.

Middle East Monitor/Amnesty International 

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