The mother of Elias Khoury, the boy who died in the Beirut port explosion, recently reiterated that her son is not a martyr, but a victim, that there are culprits who killed him, and that she would spend the rest of her life searching for them. President of the Republic Michel Aoun promised Lebanon’s citizens he would publicly declare the names of the culprits a week after the blast occurred. However, it has been two months since the crime and the investigations have not yet reached any conclusions
On Sunday October 4, the families of the 200 people killed in the explosion went to the crime scene and informed the authorities that they would wait there for a call from an official to tell them about the investigations’ latest findings. But no one ever called. Worse, the residents of Lebanon’s presidential palaces spent their Sunday evening enjoying the spoils they stole from the subjects of the “Banana and Fuel Oil Republic.”
Elias Khoury, the boy we know from the photos his bereaved mother was holding up, Elias the victim, Elias our loss, did not deserve a president from among the ones who flew to Kuwait to offer their condolences for the death of the Emir. The same ones who did not shed a tear to ease the grief of Elias’ mother. The three presidents who never felt the urge to call the 200 victims’ families who spent their Sunday evening waiting for a call.
So, here we have 200 dead people ,whose families want to know who killed them, along with more than 6,000 wounded, who want to know who tried to claim their lives. We also have more than 30,000 families who want to know who destroyed their houses. This is the preliminary toll two months after the explosion, which failed to stir the feelings of the passengers on the presidential plane heading to Kuwait to offer their condolences. Did you notice not a single president felt the urge to offer his condolences to the Lebanese?
Elias Khoury, the boy we know from the photos his bereaved mother was holding up, Elias the victim, Elias our loss, did not deserve a president from among the ones who flew to Kuwait to offer their condolences for the death of the Emir.
This is an expectation that may be symbolic and of no practical value, as the die has been cast. Yet failing to do so is significant, as it shows the murderer finds it difficult to stand in front of his victim and walk behind his coffin. The casualties are not limited to the number of the dead, injured and hard-stricken neighborhoods only. Yes, the massive explosion has left a trail of blood, but it also had enormous repercussions for the Lebanese in relation to the place where they spend their days and nights.
Elias Khoury has become the symbol of our failure to convince his generation – our sons – that Lebanon is a country worth living in. Our sons would say: ‘Look at Elias’ photo. Is that want you want for us too?’ The people who deprived Elias’ mother from being with him deprived me from feeling safe. They killed him and 200 others with him. These are not mere hypotheticals, but daily discussions we have with our children in the aftermath of the explosion. They want to leave Lebanon right away and, although it is hard for us to part, we do not have a single sound argument to convince them not to. “No one will be punished for what they did to him,” said my son, who is the same age as Elias, arguing about the need to leave our country. How can I convince him not to without any sound arguments?
The first step in this daunting mission is accountability. To regain a sense of security requires that the families of the victims and injured must feel someone will be held accountable. Yet, the authorities will never take such a move. And to hold themselves accountable is just unthinkable. Worse, the President of the Republic refused to sign for the dismissal of some port officials, so that it wouldn’t throw off the country’s sectarian balance. Regrettably, the President of the Republic is not concerned with convincing Elias Khoury’s generation to stay in his Republic.
We, the families, are concerned with their stay. And we have to stick to our guns and fight with Elias’ mother to find his killers … for the sake of our children.