Abu Dhabi: A video of three men sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Syrian boy in Lebanon has gone viral on social media and caused outrage in the country.
The video showed the three young men kidnapping the boy and beating him, before forcing him to engage in sexual acts with them, with rumours also accusing the trio of raping the child.
The boy is seen trying to escape several times in the video.
According to Lebanese media, the incident occurred in the town of Sohmor, Western Bekaa.
One of the men was identified on social media and was forced to deactivate his Facebook account after his profile was circulated, with reports confirming a number of threats made against him.
Twitter users demanded the most severe punishment for the three young men, with some even suggesting the death penalty on them.
The boy’s mother told An-Nahar Lebanese newspaper she did not know about the incident, and when she asked her son, he said that he was subjected to this several times in the past two years.
“Yesterday, my brother-in-law showed me the tragedy after it spread online. I couldn’t bare seeing my child suffer,” she said.
When she asked him about what he went through, “he said he was raped by seven men in the juice shop. They’re all relatives and from the town of Sohmor.”
“Once, one of them held him while the other one raped him,” said the mother, citing what her son told her.
The boy also said that he was psychologically and physically tortured, in addition to being threatened not to share what happened with anyone.
The mother called on children's rights organisations to take up her son’s case and called on the state to implement justice and arrest all those involved.
Kinda Alloush, a Syrian actress, said on Twitter that the crime was terrifying and painful to the extreme. “It should not be tolerated. A salute to every free person who defends this issue far from any nationalist, sectarian sentiments,” she tweeted.
Alloush added, “Lord, have mercy on us from these models of human monsters, their diseases and filth, and inflict the most severe punishment on them.”
Neshan Der Haroutiounian, a Lebanese-Armenian television presenter, tweeted, “The situation is miserable. Yeah. The times are suffocating. And there, on the land of this country, a Syrian child was raped. Photos of the aggressors were published.”
He called for bringing the offenders to justice, because “the realisation of the right is a duty.”
Lebanese singer and actress Cyrine Abdelnour said offenders of such heinous crime must rot in jail. “May God punish them, they are without conscience,” she tweeted.
Local media reported that the Syrian boy worked in a juice shop and that his Lebanese mother, who is divorced from his Syrian father, owns a vegetable shop.
Pictures allegedly showing the suspects were shared online by social media activists and users, who called on the Lebanese authorities to bring them to justice and punish them.
In an interview with Lebanese television MTV, the head of the Union for the Protection of Juveniles in Lebanon, Amira Sukkar, said that legal action was taken.
“We reported the incident to the police and spoke to the Public Prosecution and began the investigations,” Sukkar said. “The boy feels some kind of stigma now, he feels like he’s guilty of this crime.”
Joe Maalouf, a representative of the Union told Syria TV that the Lebanese judiciary identified the suspects and began an investigation.
Lebanon, a country of 4.5 million people, says it hosts 1.5 million Syrians, including nearly a million refugees registered with the United Nations.
They are frequently subjected to harrasment and detention by Lebanese security forces on various pretexts and suffer harsh living conditions.
Lebanese authorities have recently placed increasing pressure on Syrians in the country to return to Syria, saying that it is safe for them to do so.
The United Nations has consistently warned that conditions in the war-ravaged country are not suitable for such returns.
There have been reports of returning refugees being detained, conscripted into the army, or even killed by the Assad regime forces in Syria.