The Lebanese National Bloc Party released the following statement:
The "Lebanese National Bloc" party held a dialogue workshop on the elections of the Beirut Bar Association under the title "Between the National Dimension and the Privacy of the Profession", during which the party's Secretary General Pierre Issa confirmed, in an opening speech, that a political battle is taking place to liberate the unions from the claws of the ruling political class. The Beirut Bar elections of November 2019 were the first victory over the political classes, one month after popular protests erupted across the country”.
During the workshop, participants made several interventions including Nizar Saghieh, Executive Director of “The Legal Agenda” and lawyers Samir Abdel Malak and Marwan Sakr from the "National Bloc" and member of the "Executive Committee" Salam Yamout. Discussions were moderated by Naji Abou Khalil.
Secretary General Pierre Issa
In his remarks, Issa said: “the National Bloc party has recently launched the sectoral blocs to address sectoral issues of various professional specializations including lawyers, stressing that in practice a fierce political battle is taking place to liberate the unions from the claws of the ruling political class because these institutions were created to protect the profession and specialists not to empower political parties.”
He continued, “the dominant traditional parties have violated all norms, and today we are struggling to liberate these intermediary institutions, in preparation for restoring their natural role. The Beirut Bar elections were the first victory over the political classes. It has regained its independence despite the interventions of the political parties in power. We are convinced that the union's work aims to protect the specialists and promote the profession itself”.
Issa concluded “it is true that there are many members affiliated with the National Bloc in the majority of unions and syndicates, however, in case of any discrepancy between the party and the union, we definitely encourage our partisans to stand by their union.”
Samir Abdel Malak:
The historical role of the National Bloc in the Bar Association
In his intervention, lawyer Samir Abdel Malak said “historically, the National Bloc, in its capacity as member of the Bar Association's Council, had the power to choose the president, theorize change, endorse innovations and shape the association’s policies on the basis of transparency, ethics and national grounds”.
He added: “credibility with the people is built through struggles and sacrifices, and these components allowed the “bloc” to play a historical role that was deemed by then "the National Bloc’s glorious era", and it is about time to restore our glory with the cleanliness of our candidates and unions”.
The role of the Bar Association in protecting the profession
For his part, lawyer Marwan Sakr reminded that the Bar Association has played a national role since the birth of the nation and there has been a permanent correlation between its national and syndical roles. He added “The Bar Association was and still is at the center of public attention and a large part of the populations in Lebanon pins its hope on it.”
Elections of the Bar Association is a political battle par excellence
In his remarks, lawyer Nizar Saghieh, Executive Director of the Legal Agenda, said “this battle has several political dimensions, and the goals of the revolution was to restore public institutions. The elections of the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut marked a fully-fledged victory for the “October 17” revolution that shattered the tradition of political parties retaining their unchallenged influence over the syndicate. This sweeping victory confirmed once again that the national and social forces are able to unite people while ruling class of sectarian elites are expelled out”.
Saghieh stressed the importance of conducting elections based on a comprehensive program that serves the public interest broadly.” He pointed out “society is regaining its ability to defend itself, and this is very important because we have become a society of victims searching for justice in Beirut’s horrific port explosion, people’s squandered savings and other ordeals. The Association’s role is to secure the right to litigation, and this extends beyond the legal dimension in the presence of a regime that constantly violates the people's rights”.
Lessons learned from “The Syndicate Revolts - Al Nakaba Tantafed”
For his part, Yamout, clarified that the "National Bloc" was part of the engineers’ Opposition Front coalition "Al Nakaba Tantafed " that was made up of 16 groups sharing the same perspectives against Lebanon's ruling elite.
“The Syndicate Revolts” was launched a year and a half ago and there has been fear that the group would split off. In the months leading up to the elections, establishment parties ran rumors and smear campaigns to take out the coalition, but were massively unsuccessful, because the 16 components believed in the importance of unity to face the ruling political class”.
All eyes were on “Syndicate Revolts” as they competed against almost all the traditional political parties. The “Syndicate Revolts” wanted to reclaim the syndicate from the ruling class that had hegemony over it since its establishment. The challenges in the next stage are enormous, because “if we succeed, eyes will be on us, as well as if we failed”.