Syrians Facing Expulsions at Home and Abroad

The Fourth in a Series ‘Visualizing an Era of Genocide’

Over the last two years, the persecution of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has increased to terrifying levels. Whether due to violent rhetoric from the state or political parties, or direct assaults by petty militiamen, the safety of all Syrians in Lebanon is imperiled. 

With mainstream media contributing to this dangerous atmosphere, videos depicting scenes of violence and lynch mobs patrolling neighborhoods looking for Syrians to attack quickly circulated through alternative media. Ali Walid Abdulbaqi, illustrated below, was a Syrian refugee who was tortured to death at the hand of one of these groups.

At the fore of the image is an illustrated image of a Syrian man, Ali Walid Abdulbaqi, who was tortured to death by a gang of Lebanese people, with a gash on his forehead and blood down his cheek. Behind him is a tent with text written on it in Arabic, all taken from publicly circulated documents, calling for the dispossession of Syrian refugees. Below him is an image of undressed men with their arms tied up, also taken from a real image from Lebanon. On top are an arrangement of political party logos, particularly the far right christian parties who have been mobilizing and supporting these petty militias. On the top right are three men, drawn as pigs, wearing shirts belonging to a christian fascist militia Jnud al-Rab (Soldiers of God). To the right is the silhouette of Bashar Al-Assad, the man most responsible for the creation of Syrian refugees, and the main reason many cannot return home.

Text: Visualizing an Era of Genocide
Syrians Facing Expulsions at Home and Abroad 
Logos: Bizri 6, Unicorn Riot

This mobilization comes during a prolonged, crushing economic collapse in Lebanon which disproportionately affects already marginalized communities, amongst them Syrian refugees.

Disinformation campaigns have created a general atmosphere of resentment against Syrians, essentially redirecting frustration against the ruling class towards displaced Syrians. This persecution has always been a mode for some political parties to recoup their power over certain neighborhoods (particularly right-wing Christian parties, such as Kataeb, Lebanese Forces (LF), and the Free Patriotic Movement. This is a return to form for many of these parties, which rose to power as militias (particularly the LF, who committed the brutal Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 under the auspices of the Israeli Army) during the 1975-90 Lebanese Civil War, and whose power has steadily declined ever since.

Currently, Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, constituting one third of the country’s total population. Most cannot return to their homes in Syria, which are in areas controlled by the Assad regime, for fear of being imprisoned, conscripted, or killed.

Syrian activists have longed described what is occurring in Syria as a genocide, with the regime and its allies (notably Iran and Russia), depopulating Sunni Arab communities, driving them to permanent displacement, and preventing their return.

Calls for ‘repatriation’ are death sentences for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. On May 14, Lebanese authorities deported a large convoy of Syrian refugees toward Assad controlled areas. Last week on May 9, Syrian refugee Mahmoud Hassaneh, 27, was fatally shot by Syrian authorities after being deported to Syria on May 8. Earlier this year, three incarcerated Syrian men were filmed threatening to hang themselves demanding that their deportation orders be rescinded.

This widespread mobilization against Syrians in Lebanon benefits no one except for the ruling elite who have plundered the country and would rather destroy it all instead of give up an inch of their power.

This is the fourth in a series visualizing genocides across the globe created by Hisham Rifai and Ayman Makarem. See the first three specials, Resisting Starvation in Gaza, ‘Zaghrouda’ in the Midst of the Sudan War and Democratic Republic of Congo – The Genocide That Implicates Us All, below.

An illustrated image depicting a man self-immolating with a sign next to him reading “Stop the Genocide in Congo.” Also depicted are images of Congolese women, men, and children on the move with their belongings strapped to their back. In the bottom right are 3 bags with the words “Cobalt” “Lithium” “Diamonds” written on them. On the top right are images of militia men facing burning villages. Images of miners are depicted with their arms chained to a smartphone, thematically drawing the links between the minerals they are forced to extract and new tech. Text: Visualizing an Era of Genocide - DRC - The Genocide That Implicates Us All

The artistic duo has also created the Revolution in Every Country comic series on revolutionary movement events and ideas in the SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa) region.

Artist Bios

Ayman Makarem is a Lebanese writer primarily interested in the intersection of the personal and the political.

Hisham Rifai is a Lebanese artist and illustrator. He is currently based in Antwerp, Belgium completing an advanced master’s in research in arts and design. His work aims to combine political urgency with artistic practices.

Follow us on X (aka Twitter), Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, BlueSky and Patreon.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help sustain our horizontally-organized, non-profit media organization: supportourworknew