Southeast Asia GPPAC statement on the ongoing violence in Lebanon

July 20, 2006

A call for an immediate cessation of violence in Lebanon

MORE THAN a week ago, Israel launched a massive attack against Lebanon
after Hezbollah militants conducted a cross-border raid in which two
Israeli soldiers were abducted and eight others were killed. The attack,
according to reports, rendered most of the country's bridges, Beirut's
commercial airport, power plants, and cellphone towers unserviceable.

And as Israel continues launching cross-border attacks, death toll is
growing and the specter of a humanitarian crisis hangs like the sword of
Damocles as Lebanese flee their homes, with air strikes on roads and
bridges hampering efforts to help them. About 300 Lebanese citizens have
been killed, including some 30 Lebanese soldiers, while some 30 Israelis,
12 of whom are military personnel, have died in the violence. Some 500,000
Lebanese were reportedly displaced most of whom are women, children, and
the elderly. Judging from the scale of damage to both lives and
properties, there is truth to the words of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad
Siniora when he said Israel is "opening the gates of hell and madness" on
his country.

As the international community stood in awe and sorrow on the gravity of
the situation, Israeli leaders continue to beat the drums of war. Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stood pat on his government's demands for
the captured soldiers to be freed without condition and for Hezbollah to
be disarmed. This statement came as tens of thousands more foreigners were
set to leave Lebanon by land, sea, and air.

Equally disturbing is the observation that while the governments of the
US, Britain, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico,
Moldova and Sweden are systematically organizing their evacuation
operations to keep their nationals out of danger, the Asian governments
are apparently silent in responding to the need of their own nationals in
the area. Reports indicated that these Asians, most of whom worked as
domestic helpers, were left and being abandoned by their fleeing
employers.  So far, the Philippine government was able to arrange an
evacuation of some 190 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) out of the
reported 1,000 who signify their intention to return home. But we cannot
help to wonder what else the Arroyo government can do to an estimated
30,000 Filipinos in Lebanon who are now being trapped in the escalating
conflict in the region.

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia
(GPPAC-SEA) is monitoring closely the situation as fresh cross-border
attacks by Israel on Lebanon continue. We are alarmed by the massive scale
by which the Israeli government conducted its attack against its neighbor
causing so much destruction to both limbs and properties.

While we do not condone the activities of Hezbollah militants as it
endangers the volatile peace situation in the region but we share the
opinion that Israel's response to the crisis had been disproportionate. It
is utterly an overkill on the part of Israel with a comparatively superior
military to launch the massive cross-border attack with the aim of
“eliminating Hizbollah militants”. We maintain that as a sovereign state,
it falls upon the Lebanese government, not a foreign military force, to
extend its authority throughout the territory including the South and sort
out what is best to do on the question of disarming the militia.

We view with deep concern the US position that a cease-fire was only
advisable once the root cause of the fighting including the Hezbullah's
attacks was addressed as this may be interpreted as an approval to
Israel's cross-border attacks and aggression against Lebanon. Contrary to
the US position that an immediate “cease-fire would leave intact a
terrorist infrastructure", a ceasefire will allow a breathing space for
all parties and for a UN-backed international force to stabilize the
situation and prevent the outbreak of a humanitarian disaster in the
troubled region.

Therefore, in solidarity with the Lebanese people who are now at the
receiving end of the hostilities, we call on all parties to immediately
cause the cessation of violence. We also support the call by UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan for urgent action from the international community to
stop the violence between Israel and Lebanon and the deployment  for a new
international stabilization force in the border region to end the
fighting. In addition, we also call on all humanitarian agencies to
respond to the needs of the civilians who were affected and suffered the

The urgency of the situation requires the international community to move
in solidarity to make a difference on the ground. Let us join hands and be
united in calling all parties to stop the violence in Lebanon now.

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia