Tent protesters await release of Geagea
‘He is getting out, there is no doubt about it’

By Rym Ghazal , Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Although the Lebanese government has yet to vote on the parole bill for the jailed former Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea, to his supporters protesting at Martyrs’ Square, Geagea has already been pardoned and is coming home.

“He is getting out, there is no doubt about it,” said 17-year-old George Espire, sitting in one of the blue tents erected at Martyrs’ Square. In recent months, the site has been renamed “Freedom Square” as it has become “the place” for voicing discontent with the government and staging sit-in protests.

Only seven tents remain from what used to be a dense and lively “village of tents” of more than 30 shelters representing various opposition groups.

“If they don’t decide before May 20, we will protest, we will fast and we will destroy Lebanon if we have to, in order to get our leader out!” said Espire.

Other campers at Martyrs’ Square were not as vocal as Espire and had a decidedly cooler outlook on the situation.

“We learned from our mistakes during the civil war and we won’t go back to that time of killing. We will remain united with the Aounists and every Christian group in Lebanon,” said 26-year-old Rami Maroon, sitting next to a “toward freedom” flag which has become the emblem of a movement calling for the release of Samir Geagea. The former LF head has been imprisoned at the Defense Ministry in Yarze for the past 11 years.

“If Geagea comes back then finally the Christians will be united and will have their much suppressed voices heard in the new Lebanon,” said Maroon.

Elina Spirdis, 19-years-old, agreed with Maroon and added: “It is just not fair for one man to bear the guilt of so many Lebanese during the war.”

“It is time to close a chapter of the past and let Geagea come back so we can throw him a national wedding, a symbol for the marriage of all Christians,” said Spirdis.