Daughter of Lebanese activist briefly detained by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon

Daughter of Lebanese activist briefly detained by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon
The activist's daughter and her friend were held by Hezbollah members who stopped them from carrying out the survey in the southern town.
4 min read
27 July, 2021
Mahmoud is demanding justice for what happened to his daughter [TNA]

The daughter of a Lebanese activist was briefly detained by the Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah last week whilst conducting a poll in south Lebanon, her father told The New Arab on Tuesday.

Waad Shuaib, 14, and her friend were carrying out a political survey on Friday afternoon in the southern city of Nabatieh, asking people about the upcoming general elections scheduled for Spring next year, according to her father Mahmoud Shuaib, who is from the area.

"The questions they asked were whether people supported early elections, whether they would vote for a candidate from the revolution, and whether they supported international monitoring of the elections," he said.

Men allegedly affiliated with Hezbollah - the militia and political movement which has tight control over southern Lebanon and other Shia-majority areas of the country - approached the young girls, introduced themselves, and asked them what they were doing.

"Waad told them she's my daughter and explained the work they were doing with another pair who were conducting the poll elsewhere," Mahmoud explained.

The men then told the girls they were "not allowed to carry out the survey and asked her to call the other pair to join them, who were scared to come".

After refusing to show them ID, Waad and her friend were held and told they were not allowed to leave the area.

"We want to know in the south, are we occupied? Is there a state or is there not? We need to know."

Mahmoud told The New Arab was in Beirut at the time of the incident and only heard around about it around one hour later. He called his daughter who explained what happened, before telling her to pass the phone to the Hezbollah members.

"At first I thought I was talking to municipality officers. I told them what they were doing was illegal and they were not allowed to detain my daughter. Obviously, I raised my voice, and asked them why is this Hezbollah’s business? What right do they have to do this?"

Mahmoud went on to say that he spoke with a military intelligence officer, who in turn told him his daughter and her friend had been freed.

This turned out to be false, as his daughter told him they were still being held at the Nabatieh municipality building.

"They wanted to make it seem as if the municipality had arrested them, even though this makes no sense at all. But the municipalities in the south are all occupied by Hezbollah anyway," he said.

The activist - member of the 'Independent Southerners' group which was founded after the national uprising began in October 2019 - said he pressed charges against the town’s mayor, head of municipality police, and three of its members, as well as a Hezbollah official in the region.

He told The New Arab that despite him and his daughter giving statements at the town’s police station, none of the suspects were called in for questioning.

On Monday, Mahmoud headed to speak to a judge who he said wasn't in his office. He then spoke to a senior judge.

Despite this, he felt that authorities were not taking the case seriously, demanding justice be served.

"We want to know in the south, are we occupied? Is there a state or is there not? We need to know."

Many people in Hezbollah’s strongholds in the country - including south of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the Baalbek-Hermel governorate - have complained they are subject to harassment, intimidation, threats, and sometimes physical attacks if they display any opposition to the armed group.

Supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, as well as followers of the Shia Amal Movement, have repeatedly attacked demonstrators and destroyed protest sites.

Most sectarian, mainstream parties governing Lebanon are worried that their public support has declined, as syndicate elections and opinion polls have shown a shift towards non-sectarian political groups and movements.

Grassroots movements - such as 'Independent Southerners' - are betting on the parliamentary elections to manage and materialise this change.