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A fearless voice silenced forever

Remembering Lokman Slim

The Lebanese author and activist Lokman Slim was shot dead during the night of 4th February. He had been reported missing the previous day. forumZFD is shocked over this heinous crime and mourns our friend and partner. Lokman Slim’s death is a terrible loss for Lebanon.
Lokman Slim
© Footloop CC BY-SA 3.0

Lokman Slim did not shy away from taking a fearless stance or voicing uncomfortable truths. The internationally recognised intellectual was one of the most prominent figures in Lebanese civil society. On February 4th he was found dead in his car on an isolated road in southern Lebanon. His family had reported him missing the previous evening after Mr. Slim, who was on his way back to his home town Beirut, did not answer his mobile phone. According to police, his body was found with multiple bullet wounds. 

As an author, film director and publisher Lokman Slim tackled topics that many consider taboo in Lebanon. The son of a wealthy Shiite family from the southern suburbs of Beirut was committed to documenting the Lebanese Civil War which took place from 1975 to 1990. Until today the historic events are strongly contested. The period following the war is often described as a state-sponsored amnesia hoping to return to political normalcy. However, old conflicts continued to smoulder and new ones erupted. Lokman Slim worked hard to lift the veil of silence through thorough research and artistic creativity.

Together with his German partner and wife Monika Borgmann he founded the UMAM-Centre for Documentation and Research (UMAM D&R) in 2005. Since then the civil society initiative has built up a public archive with an extensive and diverse collection of documents, books, films, photos, newspaper articles, scientific papers, and other material from Lebanese history. In addition to serving as a citizen resource centre, UMAM D&R also produces its own print publications and audio-visual productions and has hosted numerous exhibitions, workshops and movie screenings. Through its work the initiative makes an important contribution to dealing with Lebanon’s conflictual past.

Lokman Slim and Monika Bergmann have been recognised internationally for their film productions. The documentary “Massacre” received an award at the 2005 film festival in Berlin (Berlinale). The film focuses on the 1982 mass murder of mostly Palestinian residents in the neighbourhoods Sabra and Shatila in Beirut during the Civil War. Another production of Slim and Bergmann, the 2016 film “Tadmor”, recreates the traumatic experiences of Lebanese detainees in a Syrian prison, where they were exposed to abuse and torture.

The exact circumstances of Mr. Slims death remain unclear until now. In the past he has been repeatedly discredited and slandered, and often received personal death threats.  The secular Shiite has been an outspoken critic of the Shiite Hezbollah party and militant group which wields significant influence in Lebanon. In 2019 Mr. Slim participated in the protests against the political leadership in Lebanon. Violent groups attacked the protesters and burned down a tent where an event was supposed to take place. Following the explosion in the Beirut port Mr. Slim criticised the lack of action taken to prevent the catastrophe.

Lokman Slim was buried on February 11th. forumZFD is in shock and sadness over his violent death. We extend our deep condolences to Lokman’s family and friends, and feel the terrible loss the country has suffered. Lokman Slim’s absence as a colleague in the Forum for Memory and Future will be felt severely, and we will forever miss the critical voice of our friend.

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