Lebanese mark civil war anniversary with peaceful demonstration

Other News Materials 13 April 2008 23:04 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Thousands of Lebanese wearing white t-shirts and chanting "We do not need a second civil war" on Sunday marked the anniversary of events that sparked the country's 15-year civil war.

"Fifteen years of hiding in bathrooms are enough," read a placard in downtown Beirut, where a music concert was also scheduled for Sunday.

Toilet seats were provided as seating for the audience at the concert that will call for peace and for the screening of short films that will highlight the "ugly memories of the civil war."

"This is only to show the people that civil wars are ugly and the Lebanese do not want a second civil war in their country," said concert organizer Nada Shanoui.

On the other side of the capital, thousands of people carrying Lebanese flags, among them those left disabled by the war, marched along what used to be Beirut's green line that divided the city into into Muslim west and Christian east.

"Think twice ... civil wars can be ugly," read a placard.

Lebanon is experiencing a political crisis, a situation that could deteriorate and ignite a new civil war. A deadlock between the western-backed government and opposition, led by Hezbollah, has left Lebanon without a head of state since November and raised fears of a return to the sectarian strife of civil war days.

The march culminated in the planting of an olive tree, the symbol of peace, in the city's Garden of Forgiveness.

The spark that ignited Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war occurred in Beirut on April 13, 1975, when gunmen killed four Christian Phalangist party members.

Believing the assassins to have been Palestinians, the Phalangists retaliated later that day, attacking a bus carrying Palestinian passengers across a Christian neighbourhood and killing 26 of them.

The next day fighting erupted in earnest, with Phalangists pitted against Palestinian militiamen, who were backed at the time by the Muslims and the Druzes.