Lolita Lebron in mural by Susan Greene

Photo: Scott Braley

Soha Bechara

In 1988, at the age of twenty, Souha Béchara attempted to assassinate General Lahad, chief of militia in charge of Israeli-occupied Southern Lebanon. Immediately apprehended, interrogated, and tortured for weeks, she was sent to Khiam, a prison and death camp, regularly condemned by humanitarian organizations. She spent ten years there, without trial. Six years were in total isolation, in a six- by two- foot cell, with one meal per day and ten minutes to eat.

In 1998 Bechara was freed through the pressure of several international human rights organizations, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross. Khiam was liberated on May 24, 2000, at the same time as the rest of south Lebanon.

When young, Soha's parents decided that Beirut in the midst of civil war was no place to raise a family and moved temporarily to the village of Deir Mimas, where they had relatives. Bechara was influenced by the varying political leanings of her friends and family members – including her apolitical mother – but was most swayed by the example of her father, a quiet communist. She eventually came to believe that divisiveness between Lebanon's many religions and ethnic groups was counterproductive: the real problem was Israel. She joined the resistance and was given the task of assassinating Lahad.

After her release Bechara spent four years in Paris, where she studied Hebrew. She now lives in Switzerland.

Soha Bechara photo

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