Information on whether the Lebanese Forces held a demonstration during the Pope's visit to Lebanon in May 1997 [LBN28619.E]

According to a 12 May 1997 report from the The Grand Forks Herald, many Christians waved flags of the Lebanese Forces during the Pope's visit. In its May 1997 edition the newsletter ShuFiMaFi reports that many of the people crowding the road between Jounieh and Beirut during the Pope's visit were holding pictures of Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea. Mr. Geagea is the former leader of the Lebanese Forces. AFP reports that some Christians were able to scream pro-Geagea and pro-Aoun slogans while the Pope was passing (10 May 1997).

The following information was provided during a 27 January 1998 telephone interview with the Secretary-General of the Comité Arabe des Droits Humain who is the former representative of the Arab section of the Fédération des Ligues Internationale des Droits de l'Homme.

The Secretary-General stated that there was no official Lebanese Forces demonstration during the Pope's visit to Lebanon. Some well-known supporters of the Lebanese Forces and other Christian opposition groups such as the Aounists were arrested before they could reach the town of Harissa where the Pope was meeting with Lebanese Christian representatives and Christians in general. The security forces released the people involved after a few hours of detention. The Secretary-General indicated that no one was hurt.

The following information was provided during a 30 January 1998 telephone interview with the Paris-based General Coordinator of the Lebanese National Congress (Congrès National Libanais), an organization that support Michel Aoun.

The Coordinator stated that members of the Lebanese Forces and supporters of Michel Aoun were arrested during the Pope's visit in May 1997. While the Lebanese Forces supporters were arrested during the Pope's appearance in Harissa, Aoun's supporters were arrested in Beirut in the area of Ain el-Ramani (East-Beirut) on the road to Baabda. On both occasions the army "intervened timidly" to take a small number of demonstrators into detention for few hours. The Coordinator could not provide details on the number and the identity of those arrested. He added that no harm was done to those arrested during these incidents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 10 May 1997. Nagib Khazzaka. "Le pape défend l'existence d'un Liban souverain et convivial."

General-Coordinator of Lebanese National Congress, Paris, France. 30 January 1998. Telephone interview.

Comité Arabe des Droits Humains, Paris, France. 28 January 1998. Telephone interview with Secretary-General.

The Grand Forks Herald. 12 May 1997. "Pope Appeals to Lebanese to Forget Tears of Muslim-Christian Strife." URL:// [Accessed on 30 Jan. 1998]

ShuFiMaFi [Beirut]. May 1997. "Popular Explosion Greets Pope." URL:// [Accessed on 26 Jan. 1998]