Son of Citizen Detained in Iran to Bassil: It’s Time to Act

The following editorial was published in The Daily Star on December 13, 2017. Written by the son of U.S. legal permanent resident and internet freedom advocate Nizar Zakka, it appeals to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for failing to act.

The Daily Star (Lebanon) – 13 Dec 2017 – NADIM ZAKKA Nadim Zakka is the son of Lebanese citizen and permanent U.S. resident Nizar Zakka, who has been held in Iran since traveling to a state-sponsored conference in Tehran in 2015.

Today my family and I feel betrayed, and my father feels left behind. For two years we have been begging the Lebanese government and its ministries to act appropriately to Nizar Zaakar’s situation, though all we saw from our Foreign Ministry is unprecedented unprofessionalism. Optimistic yet naively I believed in the Lebanese establishment to only realize that our foreign minister has the time to travel the world to gather votes, but could not take the initiative to even secure the well-being of my father. There was a time I felt pride being Lebanese, though as I experienced first hand the neglect and incompetence of our officials I felt nothing but shame in my identity.

Gebran Bassil, minister of foreign relations, you knew my father yet you do not speak. You were friends with Nizar yet you did not move. When you were minister of communication, IJMA3, the NGO that my father ran, hired and paid for all your advisers based on your request, yet you are silent. In fact, two months before his kidnapping, IJMA3 donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in provisions, to your NGO “Batrouniyat,” yet your ministry has no shame in avoiding Nizar’s friends and family.

Those are just a few of countless ways he has attempted to help the people of Lebanon through IJMA3 and development work.

Though when it comes to favors, Gebran, you have no shame in asking my dad for countless courtesies. And in return, he has never asked for anything from you. Gebran, until this day I am not asking you to do me a favor, a courtesy or even an act of kindness, I am telling you that it is about time for you to do your job.

You have failed to provide a Lebanese citizen with the basic human rights described in the Vienna Convention and also in the Geneva Convention. You have failed to take the proper measures, to ensure my father’s safety and well-being, just as well you have ignored international protocol.

For the most part I am astonished how a so-called Lebanese security agency cannot lift a finger to get a Lebanese hostage home, while on the other hand jumping through hoops trying to secure the release of an Iranian mercenary’s body, who undoubtedly came illegally, without any sort of invitation, and bearing arms. We have reached a point where we do not understand who represents the interests of the Lebanese people. When you are employed by the Lebanese government, when you are getting paid by the Lebanese people, you owe it to the Lebanese people to do your job.

Finally, I clarify that I have not shared with you all the suffering that our Foreign Ministry has made us go through, and I will hold my tongue a little longer with the knowledge that it’s time for our ministry and our minister to act.

Nadim Zakka is the son of Lebanese citizen and permanent U.S. resident Nizar Zaakar, who has been held in Iran since traveling to a state-sponsored conference in Tehran in 2015.

The original article can be found here.