Pierre Amine Gemayel
|Pierre Amine Gemayel|
2005 photo of Pierre Amine Gemayel during a visit to Canada.
23 September 1972|
|Died||21 November 2006
|Resting place||Family Grave, Bikfaya|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Pierre Amine Gemayel (Arabic: بيار أمين الجميل; commonly known as Pierre Gemayel Jr., or simply Pierre Gemayel; 23 September 1972 – 21 November 2006) was a Lebanese politician in the Kataeb Party, better known in English as the Phalange Party. Lebanon's second-youngest MP, he was a rising star in his party. He was a vocal critic of Syria's military presence in and political domination of Lebanon, and an active member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, the March 14 Alliance.
Early life and education
Pierre Gemayel was born in Beirut on 24 September 1972 to a family that has long been involved in Lebanese politics. Gemayel, a Maronite Christian, was the eldest son of former President Amine Gemayel and grandson of Pierre Gemayel (after whom he was named), who founded the Kataeb Party. He was also a nephew of former president-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated in Beirut in 1982.
Gemayel started his political life in the year 2000, when he was elected to Parliament in the Matn District as an independent. An active member of the Kataeb movement (an offshoot of the Kataeb Party), he rejoined his father in the Qornet Shehwan Gathering. He was re-elected in 2005. On the other hand, he was the only member of the Alliance list of 14 March to win a parliamentary seat in the Metn district.
He was well known for his opposition to Syrian occupation and influence in Lebanon. He was against the mandate ruling of President Émile Lahoud, and took part in the Cedar Revolution after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In July 2005, he was named minister of industry in Fouad Siniora's government. He served as the representative of the Phalange party in the Siniora government.
On 21 November 2006, the day before Lebanon's Independence Day, at least three to four gunmen opened fire at close range on Gemayel with five different types of silenced automatic weapons, all using 9 mm bullets, after ramming his car from the front in the Jdeideh suburb north of Beirut with a Honda CRV with tinted windows that they were driving. Gemayel was the fifth prominent anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon in two years.
Gemayel was visiting his electoral district of Metn, in Jdeideh that day. Gemayel refused escorts, and was himself driving his car unshielded during the assassination. The method by which Gemayel was assassinated is much more brazen than that used in the past - gunmen killing in broad daylight, rather than anonymous car bombs detonated remotely. He was rushed by his driver, who escaped the attack unhurt, to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was declared dead. His bodyguard Sameer Chartouni was also killed in the attack.
His killers issued a communique in which they referred to themselves the "Fighters for the Unity and Liberty of Greater Syria." They said that they killed Gemayel because he was "one of those who unceasingly spouted their venom against Syria and against [Hizbullah], shamelessly and without any trepidation."
A report by Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah alleged that an editor from the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency contacted a Lebanese pro-Syrian newspaper 55 minutes prior to the assassination to inquire about the murder. The story claims the SANA reporter called back 10 minutes later to apologize for the original call. Al Seyassah further states it did not name the Lebanese newspaper to protect its identity.
Lebanese law requires the dissolution of the government if one third of the 24-member Cabinet resign or become unavailable. It has been speculated that Gemayel’s assassination was an attempt by pro-Syrian groups to reach the required third, and so force the current Government from power. With the recent resignation of six Hezbollah MPs from the Cabinet, added to Gemayel’s death, the resignation or death of only two more ministers would topple the government.
Others have, however, put forward many conspiracy theories regarding the murder  such as a possible false flag operation. Many have questioned Syria's interest in targeting the Christian society as that could have the effect of destabilising a rival Christian party, namely Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement which, together with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's Shi'i Hezbollah, forms the largest parliamentary pro-Syrian block. However the pro-Syrian coalition managed to establish a sit-in, later growing into a protest camp, in the martyr's square downtown Beirut, to insist on their demands.
Despite these claims, the unidentified perpetrators are still at large and the investigation on the attack has been inconclusive.
A funeral ceremony for him was held on Martyrs' Square on 23 November 2006 with the participation of hundreds of thousands of supporters of the March 14 Alliance, and turned to be a political character. His body was buried in his hometown Bikfaya after Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir performed the rites in Beirut.
Saad Hariri, then majority leader of the Lebanese Parliament and the head of the Current for the Future political movement, accused Syria of ordering the killing. The Syrian government denied any involvement, and condemned the killings
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt also blamed Syria for the assassination, and said he expected more such killings aimed at undermining the Lebanese parliament's ruling majority. "I bluntly accuse the Syrian regime," Jumblatt said.
Similar remarks and condemnation were issued by almost all of the major Lebanese political players.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the murder. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the United Kingdom, called the killing "contrary to the interests of all in the region" in a press conference aired on Al Jazeera English approximately an hour after Gemayel's death was confirmed.
The White House also condemned the murder. The U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said Gemayel's assassination brought new attention to the danger that Syria and Iran are attempting, through allies such as Hezbollah, to conduct a coup d'état against the Lebanese government, and came the closest of any administration official to blaming Damascus. "One pattern we discern in these political assassinations of Lebanese leaders — journalists, members of parliament — they are all anti-Syrian. So I suppose one can draw conclusions from that," he said.
Gemayel married Patricia Daif, a Lebanese Christian, in 1999, and they had two sons, Amine and Iskander (Alexander). The wedding was held in Limassol, Cyprus, so that Gemayel's father, who was then in self-exile, could attend.
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