Esteemed Mrs Salma Mershak,
أودّ أن أعزّيكم وأتمنى لكم قوّة الأمل!
Honorable members of the Slim family and the UMAM organization
Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends of Lokman Slim,
I am conveying to you the regards of Ambassador Andreas Kindl who is with us in his thoughts but cannot be here in person.
Many of us knew Lokman personally, and even those who did not, were aware of his fascinating work. To many people assembled here he was a good friend, and for many others he was an inspiration. With all his creativity and steadfastness Lokman Slim was actively committed to the cause of realising the best traits of Lebanese society – open-mindedness, pluralism and a free space for public debate. He was motivated by a strong yearning to overcome the divides – religious, ethnic and political divides - and to see democracy and respect for human rights fulfilled in his country.
The founding of UMAM, the vast archives, the documentaries – all these achievements show Lokman’s contribution as a driving force for change and a better Lebanese future.
Monika, on all these projects and through all these years, you worked closely alongside Lokman. I have the outmost respect for your decision to continue with your important work under these challenging circumstances.
So, we took pride in conveying to you, jointly with our French colleagues, the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law less than two weeks ago. The award formally recognizes these remarkable achievements. Please be assured that we understand the importance of your work and that you have our full support.
I am also happy to see that your work to set up the Lokman Slim Foundation has now come to fruition. The foundation will focus on addressing the scourge of political assassinations in the Middle East and re-double efforts to bring impunity to an end.
Let me be clear on this:
Human creativity and a free society can only thrive if there is freedom of expression. This human right can only be fully exercised, however, if there is an environment of tolerance, safety and security for all.
The assassination of a public figure, a journalist, a peaceful activist, a human rights defender is the most outrageous suppression of the right to freedom of speech one can imagine. If such a crime is committed, though, it is the obligation of the state to enforce the rule of law. This includes a thorough investigation to establish the facts of the crime, identify the alleged perpetrators and eventually bring the perpetrators to justice.
To our frustration, one year after Lokman’s murder, the investigation into his assassination is still ongoing. And there are fears that those responsible might never be brought to justice and that a so-called “culture of impunity” could further manifest itself in Lebanon.
The pain we are feeling here today goes beyond the personal dimension:
It is the pain about a country that could not protect one of its most gifted citizens.
And it is also a pain springing from a deep, uncanny concern that the state may in fact be giving up on its own authority to uphold the law.
The vast majority of the Lebanese people surely dream of a country in which one cannot get away with murder and where there is no impunity for assassinations.
Lokman Slim tirelessly worked for a Lebanese society that is open, tolerant and generous to all its members, and he wanted to see a Lebanese state that effectively protects the human rights of all.
This commitment, his legacy, will continue!
Monika Borgmann, Salma Mershak, Rasha Al-Ameer, let me once again assure you of my deepest respect.