George Hawi (ALA-LC: Jūrj Ḥāwī; 1938 – 21 June 2005) was a Lebanese politician and former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP). An outspoken critic of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs, he was killed in 2005 by a bomb placed under the passenger seat of his Mercedes. [1]
George Hawi was born in the village of Bteghrine in Lebanon 1938 to a Greek Orthodox family. Although born into a Christian family, Hawi was a professed atheist.[2]
He became active in student politics in his early years at university, participating in numerous strikes and demonstrations and in several popular movements. He joined the LCP in 1955 and became one of the main leaders of its Student League by the end of the decade.
In 1964 he was imprisoned for his involvement in a strike against Lebanon’s state-controlled tobacco manufacturer. In 1969 he was again in prison for participation in a demonstration on April 23 in support of the Palestinian cause, and again in 1970 for his part in attacking an army detachment.
Hawi was briefly expelled from the LCP in 1967 for calling for more independence from the policies of the Soviet Union. He rejoined the Party and was elected secretary general in 1979 — a position he kept until 1993.
During the Lebanese Civil War Hawi, who used the kunya-style nom de guerre “Abu Anis”, established the Popular Guard, the LCP militia, which was aligned with the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) of Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt in its opposition to the Maronite-dominated government and Christian-backed militias. The LCP was also active in the guerrilla warfare against Israel and its proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), in southern Lebanon, after the Israeli invasion in 1982. During the invasion he created the Lebanese National Resistance front together with Muhsin Ibrahim. LNRF was commanded by Elias Atallah. At later stages of the war, the LCP under Hawi allied with Syria, which had entered Lebanon in 1976, but was to stay in the country for nearly 30 years.
He became a critic of the influence of Damascus in Lebanon late in his life, after having left the LCP in 2000. In 2004, he supported the foundation of the leftist Democratic Left Movement (DLM), that was against the Syrian presence in Lebanon and participated in the Independence Uprising of 2005. Murdered journalist Samir Kassir was a prominent member and co-founder of this group.
George Hawi was assassinated when a bomb planted in his car was detonated by remote control, as he traveled through Beirut’s Wata Musaitbi neighborhood. Several sources including the March 14 Alliance and members of the Western media immediately blamed Syria for his killing and for the other explosions in the capital though a definitive culprit has yet to be found.
In August 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon informed members of Hawi’s family that they had found a link between his murder and that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.[3] The STL had previously issued indictments against members of Hezbollah for the Hariri killing.
1. ^ Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2005 [1]
2. ^ “What united them was opposition to a supposedly corrupt and pro-western administration, unfairly dominated by factions of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian community. Notwithstanding his own professed atheism, Hawi, Greek Orthodox by birth, was valued as an iconic Christian figure within a coalition often painted as sectarian Muslim.” Lawrence Joffe, ‘Obituary: George Hawi: Lebanese communist leader who espoused Muslim-Christian dialogue’, The Guardian (London) 22 June 2005, Pg. 29.
3. ^ “STL Delegation informs Hawi’s family of link to Hariri killing”. Daily Star. 13 August 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.