After banning the piece of the director and actor Lucien Bourjeily criticizing censorship in Lebanon in 2013, the Lebanese General Security yesterday refused to renew the passport of an artist who is preparing to represent Lebanon with a new piece next month in London under the LIFT festival. On social networks, Bourjeily who’s nominated to win a 2014 Index Freedom of Expression Award for his censored play “Is It Permitted or Not,” stated that the GS’s office refused to justify its decision to confiscate his passport. Here’s his full statement:
After banning in 2013 the play that I wrote/directed (“Bto2ta3 aw ma Bto2ta3” – produced by MARCH) that criticizes the General Security censorship bureau, today the General Security banned me in 2014 from traveling and perform another play in London next month…
As I am going to represent Lebanon with a play entitled “Vanishing State” next month in the The LIFT Festival in London, the Lebanese General Security today (May 21, 2014) Confiscated my passport and refused to renew it, which means i’m no longer allowed to leave Lebanon to perform in the festival: the reason? – They categorically refused to give me a reason… I pleaded for an answer but they kept refusing to give the reason… they said that we will revert back to you in the coming month or month and a half and they hinted “you should know why… something that happened in 2013”. – No SIR I don’t know why; I’ve never been convicted of a crime, I’m not a convict, nor a thief, nor a murderer, nor a warlord, nor a corrupt official, and I’ve never been in a courtroom in 2013 nor before and I’ve had a clean record since I was born (Sijil 3adleh)… I’ve travelled in and out of Lebanon for every month since years ago and I’ve never had a problem at the airport… so you tell me why….
Why one month to one Month and a half to get an answer or any kind of response?? Why the “no reason”? Why the “you know why” attitude??? Why the total disregard for my basic freedom and rights as a human being?? As a citizen?? As an artist???
Yes indeed now I know why….
What a high price we have to pay as Lebanese citizens for Freedom of Expression and in our fight against corruption and censorship….