Monday, May 23, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: Murderers Among Us

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

One of Lebanon's ongoing tragedies are car accidents that are becoming increasingly deadly, taking lives on an almost daily basis. One can blame reckless drivers and irresponsible car and truck owners whose actions are going unpunished which makes the situation totally out of control. The news in Lebanon is now filled of stories describing one tragedy after the other of lives cut short because someone was breaking the law, either through speeding or driving cars that are not fit to be in circulation or dangerous roads where passenger cars find themselves sandwiched in between large trucks that are most of the time illegally overloaded, not maintained properly and that have no business being on the road to start with.

My cousin - Colette Sayegh Noun - was murdered by an irresponsible truck driver this past week. She was one of his three victims. I refuse to accept it as a tragic car accident, because it is not an "accident." This is murder, plain and simple. It is pre-meditated murder in all its shocking and painful details. A truck that has been removed from circulation because it was deemed inappropriate to drive, is allowed to operate in a populated area on a dangerous road that leads to an industrial zone. I used the same road this morning to come to my late cousin's house and it was obvious to me that so many people are responsible for this murder. If it were up to me every one of them should be brought to justice, tried and prosecuted. Starting with the truck owner who is now enjoying "life" with his loved ones, to the truck driver who lost control of his truck and rammed over my cousin's car and two others killing three and terrorizing others, to the officials who allow such trucks to operate even after they were deemed inappropriate, to the other officials who ignore how dangerous such roads are and don't bother to create solutions to protect the innocent population from the wrath of greedy businessmen who will stop at nothing to make a cheap buck. You see, all of them have taken part in this crime and will continue to kill people unless someone stops them and brings them to justice. Instead the story made the news, people were shocked, the truck driver fled, no one heard from the truck owner, and the news moves on to another story and perhaps more accidents where others are murdered in the same or different manner.

At the young age of 45, Colete Sayegh Noun leaves behind a weeping community unable to grasp the shock of the tragedy and asking simple questions that no one seems to be able or willing to answer. The sad reality is that my sweet cousin is not the first to pay the price of brainless, heartless individuals and she certainly won't be the last.

Writing this column from Colette's house as hundreds of people continue to file in to offer her family their condolences has a different meaning. It makes this tragedy a whole lot more than a news story. It makes it personal, it makes it hurt and it makes it bleed every time someone says "May she rest in peace" or "may God keep her in his heavens."

The toughest times are ahead when Colette's husband and kids will weep as they sorely miss the woman who kept their family together. It is impossible to imagine this house without her just as it is impossible for all those who lost loved ones to imagine life without them.

May this tragedy serve as a lesson that by ignoring unsafe roads, and by not bringing to justice those who commit the crime of keeping an unsafe truck in circulation, we are contributing to a crime that is waiting to happen. This murder is exactly as someone planting a timed bomb among unsuspecting innocent people. It is not much different from a lunatic opening fire on innocent human beings. It is a heinous crime and the criminals are all around us.

My deepest sympathy to my uncle, my cousins and Colette's husband and three children. My heartfelt condolences also go to the families of the two young men who lost their lives in this tragedy. May all the victims of car crimes find justice one day.



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