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'Barakat', House of Memory
Beirut, Lebanon
By Christina Foerch
01 Sep 2013

Beirut, Lebanon

There is something intriguing about this old building at Sodeco Square, also called Barakat Building or the Yellow House. Located at a busy intersection in the heart of Beirut, 15 years of destruction and war couldn’t destroy the beauty of the building’s unique architecture. And despite being a war ruin where nobody could live in anymore, even not squatters, a courageous man re-opened his barbershop “Salon Ephrem pour Dames”. He emptied his small property of rubble and the sand bags left there by snipers, renovated his salon and painted the walls and continued where he was forced to stop in 1976 due to the war: as a hairdresser for the ladies of Achrafieh. Ephrem’s story is one of many untold stories of war. And the Barakat building is home to many stories of war. “This building summarizes the history of war. It evokes the memory of the city of Beirut, the sweet and the bitter one”, says Mona Hallak, a young architect. Due to her years-long struggle, this building wasn’t sold to investors and destroyed after the war. Under the auspices of the Municipality of Beirut, it will become a museum, or a House of Memory.

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LEBANON: Pact of Silence
By carloscastro
01 Jun 2011

Those who fought the war imposed silence. They could do so because they still have power. The political elite in Lebanon neither assumed their guilt in a conflict that pitted the country's communities nor held external actors accountable for their participation. Their objective has been to build a new country over the ruins of the old one in order to forget the war. The words justice, truth and reconciliation are not on the political agenda, but there are voices still crying courageous. "I can not reconcile with the criminal if I do not know the truth. Then I will decide whether to forgive or not", says Wadada Halwani, president of the Committee of Families of the Kidnapped and Missing persons in Lebanon.

The long way towards peace starts just after the signature of the peace agreements, when the complex and difficult process of building peace, memory, truth, reconciliation and justice for all the victims begins. The documentaries of the ‘After Peace' project seek to analyze and explain different paths taken by various countries who suffered an armed conflict in the last quarter of the 20th century. Researchers, activists for peace and reconciliation, victims, lawyers and educators expose what has been done and what has been ignored in their countries and talk about their experiences.