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French Version

Bahia Hariri marks April 13 as day to celebrate Lebanese unity

'It is time to assure ourselves we are worthy of this country'

Sidon MP Bahia Hariri called upon Lebanese and international organizations Thursday to come up with creative ideas on how to commemorate April 13, the date when the Lebanese civil war first began 30 years ago.

Hariri, sister of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, made her call during a news conference at the capital's Inter-Continental Phoenicia Hotel, which was severly damaged by the explosion that killed Hariri on February 14.

She said: "The coming of April 13 marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the Lebanese civil war. It is a date which the late premier and martyr Hariri wanted to set as a day for Lebanese unity."

Hariri added: "For all the hardships that we have been through, and in order to remember but never to forget, we want this day to be a day for national unity and freedom."

According to the MP: "All Lebanese should stand together to protect the future of Lebanon through this memorial, which marks the pains and salvation of Lebanon."

Hariri called upon the Lebanese to mark their national unity and freedom according to their own dreams.

She said: "I leave it to each and every one of you, and to the national economic, media, civil, sports, educational associations, committees and syndicates. I also leave it to our friends from the regional and international companies and organizations to come up with activities to be held in Lebanon between the 10th and the 13th of April, to show their support and solidarity with us."

During the news conference, the Sidon MP said that she wished Beirut would host the first United Nations Development Program project on human development and freedoms on April 13, a step Hariri considered would be a remarkable gesture to show support to the Lebanese cause, freedom and unity.

Separately, both Beirut Mayor Abdel-Minhem Ariss and Solidere's Nasser Shammah, said that the municipality and real-estate corporation were each working on ideas to commemorate the somber occasion.

Beirut Marathon Committee head May Khalil suggested that a run for solidarity be held on April 13.

Hariri called upon "the pioneers of freedom and national unity, such as Nelson Mandela, Sonja Ghandi and Corazon Aquino, and all the pioneers throughout the Arab region and the world to join us in our day of freedom and solidarity."

She remarked: "It is time to assure ourselves and the world that we are worthy of this country and our Rafik Hariri. Lebanon is for everyone, above everyone - a country able to live."

Beirut 18-03-2005
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star

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