Detlev Mehlis, head of the UN Commission investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, will affect the lives of every Arab if he successfully determines the names and identities of those who planned and carried out the assassination.
If the truth is to emerge and the perpetrators shown to be the true criminals they are, dictators and others with no regard to the sanctity of human life will learn a valuable lesson.
Those who killed Hariri believed in their immortality and in the continued protection of a police state that murdered and terrorized its people. History has shown that those who kill with impunity and targeted civilians assume they are in control of the rules of the game.
Who could have imagined that Saddam Hussein, who committed mass murders and tried to annihilate his enemies, would spend the rest of his life languishing in jail? Or Ceausescu who oversaw countless crimes and massacres in Romania, shot by firing squad? Or the Serbs who massacred hundreds of Muslims now on trial in The Hague?
Uncovering the identity of Hariri’s killers will force dictators to rethink their policies, by demonstrating that no one is above the law and that the lives of innocent victims were not shed in vain.
My generation has seen genocide, mass killings and over-zealous revolutionary courts killing thousands on trumped-up charges. It has also witnessed the rise of governments who cannot guarantee the safety and dignity of their people. The ongoing investigation in Lebanon will mark the end of such practices.
Last weekend, as I traveled from Mount Lebanon to the Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut, I saw Mehlis’ convoy on its way to his residence in the village of Ain Saadeh. I realized then the country had become a safer place as the German investigator”s order were obeyed by the security services. I eventually found myself praying this man, who I have never met, and caught myself murmuring, “May God protect him”.
Such is the dire situation we find ourselves in because of the criminal actions of security officials and totalitarian regimes who murder and blame their crimes on everyone else.