The Guardian 29 June, 2005


George Hawi, 1938-2005

George Hawi, former General Secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) was assassinated in Beirut last week. He died when a bomb planted in his car was detonated by remote control as he travelled through the Lebanese capital’s Wata Musaitbi neighbourhood. He was 67. The LCP has described him as "the founder of the Lebanese national resistance front and the basic leader of the national Lebanese movement."

A number of secular democratic forces have blamed the leading figure’s death on what they describe as the "Syrian-Lebanese intelligence apparatus". Elias Atallah, leader of the Democratic Left political alliance which includes the LCP, has called on the United Nations to investigate the murder.

The LCP, despite its longstanding ties to Syria, has had a reappraisal of its policies and is now calling for an end to all outside interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Syria’s support for mostly anti-Communist fundamentalist sects during the last decade had damaged the public image of the LCP.

At a recent international meeting of communist parties, a representative of the LCP said, "the situation in the Middle East is considerably worsened by the impertinent advances of US imperialism in the region under the pretext of the implementation of the so-called ‘Greater Middle East’ project which represents nothing else but a new version of foreign interference in the domestic affairs of our countries." The Party has called for a conference among secular, left parties in the region to discuss pressing political issues.

Expressions of sadness at the loss of the LCP’s historical leader have been widely reported in the media in the Middle East. Al Jazeera television accompanied the announcement with these words from a newsreader: "Georges Hawi, former Communist Party leader and heavy critic of Syrian interference in Lebanon has been assassinated this morning in a car bomb. May Allah rest his soul in peace. He was brave. It’s a big loss for Syrian and Lebanese democrats."

Condolences to the family and comrades of George Hawi have flooded in from all over the world. Marie-George Buffet, National Secretary of the French Communist Party sent the following message:

"I wish to express in the name of our French Communist Party the depth of our feeling after the assassination of our friend and comrade, George Hawi, former General Secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party and political personality known and respected in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world…

"The French communists stand at the side of Lebanese communists, of the democrats, all the patriotic forces who reject the sordid crime and interference in the affairs of the country. We reaffirm out solidarity with the whole of the people of Lebanon whose legitimate aspirations we deeply understand."

George Hawi was born in the village of Bteghrin in 1938. He was in the frontline of the fight against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the Lebanese National Resistance Front, which was formed prior to the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982.

He was deeply committed to the struggles of the oppressed from his early years at university. He participated in numerous strikes and demonstrations and in several popular movements. He joined the LCP in 1955 and became one of the main leaders of the Student League by the end of the decade.

In 1964 he was imprisoned for his involvement in a strike against Lebanon’s state-controlled tobacco manufacturer. In 1969 he was again in prison for participation in the historic demonstration on April 23 in support of the Palestinian cause, and again in 1970 for his part in attacking an army detachment.

Hawi was briefly expelled from the LCP in 1967 for calling for more independence from the policies of the Soviet Union. He rejoined the Party and was elected secretary general in 1979 — a position he kept until 1993.

During the Lebanese Civil War he established the Popular Guard; a militia affiliated to the LCP which played a significant role in the war. George Hawi left the LCP in 2000, but continued to work tirelessly until the end of his life for reconciliation and an end to sectarian strife in Lebanon.

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