SHEIKH BASHIR GEMAYEL
was born on November 10, 1947 in Bikfaya, Lebanon, his family's ancestral home for 400 years. He was the youngest child, the second son, of Pierre Gemayel, founder of the Kataeb Social Democratic Party of Lebanon. Bashir graduated from St. Joseph University (Beirut) in 1971 wit Bachelor degrees in Law and Political Science.
Bashir involved himself in both academic world and politics. He first visited the United States in 1972 to attend a seminar on International law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Upon completion of the seminar, he returned to Lebanon to pursue his required three years legal internship before being admitted to the bar. In the meantime, having been a member of the Kataeb Party since his youth, he was appointed the Political Director of the Ashrafieh district of Beirut in 1972.
The situation in Lebanon was steadily deteriorating, with continued violent outbreaks of fighting between the armed Palestinians and the Lebanese Army.
Attacks by the armed Palestinians against Israeli targets across the Lebanese-Israeli border grew more numerous and deadly. After the Lebanese-PLO war broke on in April 1975, Bashir joined his fellow militia members of the Kataeb party in defending the Christian areas against the PLO attacks.
When William Hawi, Commander-in-Chief of the Kataeb Military Council was killed in the Lebanese Forces siege of the PLO stronghold in Tell Zaatar in July 1976, Bashir was named to succeed him. By August 30, he was appointed head of the unified command of the Lebanese Forces, a coalition of the Christian militias of the Kataeb Party, National Liberal Party, the Tanzim and the Guardians of the Cedars.
On July 7, 1980, these Christian militias were unified into one as the Lebanese Forces with Bashir Gemayel as their Commander-in-Chief. By January 1981, Gemayel also held positions as Chief of the Kataeb Security Council and member of the Kataeb Political Bureau.
As Commander-in-Chief, Bashir strengthened the military potential of the Lebanese Forces, instituting military training in schools of the Christian sector to build up reserves. he also gave the Lebanese Forces a broader political dimension and popular basis. he organized public services in the liberated areas to substitute for the lack of government provided services. these included a public transportation system; a popular committee to provide the daily needs of the population such as water, electricity, road maintenance, garbage collection, sewage, social relief services, etc.; two radio stations and a television station; and a small airport.
Bashir married Solange Toutounji in 1977. His first child Maya, at the age of eighteen months, was killed in Beirut on February 23, 1980 in a car bomb explosion intended for Bashir. Their two other children are Youmna, born in 1981 and Nadim, born in 1982.
Under President Elias Sarkis, a Council of National Salvation was formed in June 1982 which grouped the major militia and political leaders in an effort to draw up measures to end the seven years of war which had shaken Lebanon. Gemayel participated on the short-lived Council as the representative of the Lebanese Forces.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Forces, Bashir had many opportunities to meet foreign officials both abroad and in Lebanon to discuss his vision of Lebanon. Most notable of these were several trips he made to the United States, where he consulted with officials from the State Department, the White House, Senators and Congressmen; his visit to Saudi Arabia in July 1982 to consult with King Fahd; his meeting with European Christian Democrat Parliamentary groups; and his meetings with US, UN and Arab envoys who were working on solutions to the Lebanese crisis.
Bashir officially announced his candidacy for President of the Republic of Lebanon on July 24, 1982. On August 23, 1982, Gemayel was elected President of the Republic in a second ballot by a vote of 57 for with 5 abstentions.
During the next few weeks, he held countless planning sessions and intensive meetings with Christian Moslem leaders, drawing up plans for the new Lebanon he wanted reborn. He began rallying all of Lebanon, Moslems and Christians alike, around him as no other leader in Lebanon had been able to do since independence.
Nine days before he was to be inaugurated President, Bashir attended his usual discussion session at the Kataeb office in Ashrafieh. A powerful explosion on the second floor ripped through the building, collapsing it on itself and killed Bashir along with 26 others. The hero and hope of Lebanon was dead and all Lebanon mourned.
It was later discovered that two members of the National Syrian Socialist Party one of whom was related to the owners of the building in which the Ashrafieh Kataeb offices were located, were the instigators of the bombing and that Syria was backing them.
Bashir was frank and direct in his dealings with people. His zeal for the Lebanese cause, an independent Lebanon free of all foreign occupation, inspired many. This goal took him around the world, meeting with Arab and Western leaders, in search for solutions and support. He was a bold man, charismatic, decisive. he maintained a clear political course, attracting young, dynamic and specialized individuals to the cause. He was forthright and realistic, a man who refused compromise or half-way solutions. He was open to dialogue and not afraid of criticism.
The Lebanese emigrants had a major role to play in supporting the Lebanese cause, Bashir believed. he instituted offices in many countries overseas, including the Unites States, France, Brazil, West Germany and Italy to keep those governments informed about the Lebanese communities there active in working for the liberation of their mother country, Lebanon.
Gemayel consistently worked for free, democratic, independent Lebanon, pluralist in nature and strong, secure state. he believed that Moslem and Christian could live together in peace and that Lebanon need to maintain good relations with the Western World as well as the Arab World. He advocated the withdrawal of Syrian forces occupying Lebanon since 1975, the withdrawal of Israeli forces occupying Lebanon since June 1982 and disarming of the Palestinians while on Lebanese soil.
"... I have come to ask you to speak the truth no matter how hard it is ..."
"... I want Lebanon 10452 Km2 and not one meter less ..."