Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn in front of historic ruins from the era of the Crusades in Lebanon. [Source: facebook.com]
Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn is best known for his role alongside Jackie Chan in Operation Condor, more broadly acting in more than 30 Hollywood films. However, one successful career did not suffice, for this polymath’s interests and achievements run the gamut of humanity itself.
He is a Grammy Award alumnus, Carnegie Hall concert pianist, and a member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. While those are some weighty accomplishments, perhaps his deepest passion is symbolized in his third name: The original Percival’s mother’s name was Herzeleide, or Heart’s Sorrow. Our Percival is on a mission to cure one of the many miseries running rampant on earth, the inhumane, unconscionable conditions that mothers and children endure in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, as founder of the non-profit We Can Save Children.
Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn, left, with Jackie Chan, on set. [Source: facebook.com]
Sir Lyn was born in Yemen and bears that region as his tortured motherland. He has frequented Lebanon in the past six years, visiting Syria as well, each occasion shedding light on the agony that generations have been resigned to in those countries. Lebanon is, in his words, a failed state where basic services have collapsed for its own citizenry of 5.3 million. Gasoline is $20 per gallon, and inflation has rendered fresh food nearly unaffordable. A gallon of milk is ~$7.29, unemployment a staggering 29.6%.
Roughly the size of Connecticut, Lebanon houses 489,292 registered Palestinian refugees according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Other estimates triple that number which has continued to grow since 1948 when the State of Israel was established. We now have grandchildren who have witnessed their parents and grandparents heart-wrenching suffering. Lyn says, “You live what you learn.”
The temperature in the summer is regularly over 104° Fahrenheit. Although the Shatila camp is only one square kilometer, it is home to roughly 40,000 people in ramshackle housing that continues to grow wobbly vertically due to geographic barriers.
Without power for 16 hours a day, people get literally hot under the collar, and it is all they have known for generations. They shower in salt water laden with chemicals. “A steel utensil rusts in thirty minutes in that foul water,” recollected Lyn.
A link to his Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/vincent.lyn.50/videos/264098736322466
Lyn at Al-Madina Souq, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aleppo, Syria. [Source: medium.com]
Lyn has often been hosted by a family there over the years. The extreme temperature in overcrowded conditions foment frustration that builds to anger and resentment. “There are clashes all the time,” he added, “Watching parents suffer could make anyone want revenge.”
“The United States and Israel are responsible,” Lyn says. UNRWA provides the five-member family with whom he sojourns just $300/month, but they are not permitted to work due to their status as refugees. That meager sum of money cannot provide even half the amount of food five people need. “The situation is absolutely unsustainable. I would expect civil war to be imminent,” the sorrow in Vincent’s heart reverberates in his words.
Israel bombs Lebanon and Syria frequently with the premise that they are targeting terrorists. September 15th marks the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre carried out by Christian militias allied with Israel that took the lives of anywhere from 460 to 4,500 civilians in a poor refugee camp outside of Beirut.
Adding insult to injury, Lebanon is now host to somewhere between approximately 1.5 and 2.5 million Syrian refugees who live in similarly discouraging, nay hopeless, situations. Lebanon has the highest per capita population of refugees in the world.
Graffiti commemorating Sabra and Shatilla massacre by Israeli proxy forces in 1982 Israeli war on Lebanon. [Source: aljazeera.com]
Witnessing these horrors does not render one an anti-Semite. The Jewish people have undergone unlimited heart-wrenching atrocities, particularly during World War II and in the era before that. Each side of this conflict has legitimate security concerns. In that light, attempting to reduce this article as anti-American misses the point. In words, the United States stands for the recognition of human rights, for righteousness around the world. Lyn would like us to live up to that mandate.
Our society is moving away from binaries, observing the gray areas between black and white, good and evil, female and male. These refugees live in a dismal gray murk that does not meet basic human needs. Human rights are recognized because, when people do not have clean water, nutritious food and safe space, they revolt because they literally have nothing to lose. Over and over again, Lyn uses the word unsustainable.
When in Syria, Lyn is not permitted into the refugee camps. He did, however, experience two rarities for non-Syrians during his most recent trip. He was interviewed on Syrian National TV.
He also obtained rare permission to visit the extremely sensitive Quneitra Governorate Golan Heights. Technically, this land is Syrian. In 1967, Israel annexed it, an act not recognized by the United Nations, and nothing has changed in 56 years.
Since 2011, more than 15 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. Of those, 6.8 million remain internally displaced. In the northeastern Syrian refugee camp near Al-Hawl, 54,000-70,000 refugees, mostly women and children, live abysmally. This humanitarian crisis remains an ISIS breeding ground, with no wonder as to why.
Lyn being interviewed by Syrian National TV reporter. [Source: Photo courtesy of Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn]
In 2018, the U.S. budget for this region was $550 million. This year, it was $920 million.
The situation there is very complex; ISIS began recruiting wives from around the world to the region in 2012. Now, some of them are trying to return to their countries of birth with their children, under great controversy. The children are citizens of Sweden, England and other Western nations. Are they welcome there?
MI6 Foreign Intelligence Service Chief Richard Barrett said, “Governments have a responsibility to look more closely at why [the IS brides] made the decisions they did.” That being said, at a fundamental level, when humans live like rats, they resort to animalistic behaviors. To stop the aggrandizement of terrorism, hospitable living conditions are a minimum requirement.
Lyn with Ashraf Dabbour—Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon—on August 24, 2023. [Source: Photo courtesy of Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn]
Lyn is highly respected in the region. Earlier this month, he gave the commencement address at the American University of Culture and Education in Beirut, imploring graduates to consider the legacy they want to leave behind. He also had a propitious meeting with the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabbour, to discuss his donation of $12 million in medical supplies via We Can Save Children. He reported his recent findings to United Nations (UN) associates on September 12 in his role as Deputy Ambassador of the Human Rights Commission. “For the group, it was eye opening,” Lyn said. He also believes Lebanon to be on the brink of civil war due to the mutual abhorrence between the religions, which is fed by the abysmal living conditions that have persisted for three generations.
[Source: Photo courtesy of Sir Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn]
To attempt to move away from that perilous path, the different parties would have to put themselves, for even the briefest of moments, in the shoes of the other. An exemplar here is Ted Fellow Aziz Abu Sarah, who traveled on a personal journey of peace to forgive the Israeli police officer who killed his brother. Charles Eisenstein offers a path toward peace. If each side to this conflict can halt the reductionist tendency to believe the other is the embodiment of evil, but rather holistically see that each person is complex, living within a faith of honor, then maybe humans can recognize the self in the other. Americans, Israelis, Palestinians and Syrians are all the same people. Dr. B. Salem Foad, founder of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, said it best: “God sees one religion. It is man who divides it up.”
Another necessity is the recognition that the U.S. CIA has bolstered enmity with its attempt to control world events, by installing puppet leaders, starting coups and other various sundry tasks over the years. To quote Robert F Kennedy, Jr., “Imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy at home.” The U.S. government needs to extricate itself from this conflict. They can use this year’s nearly billion-dollar budget to provide humane housing for these refugees to reduce tension and frustration. Every day that goes by without the recognition of human rights confirms tacit acceptance that they—U.S. government agencies—are creating terrorism through their policies of more than half a century.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. [Source: mprnews.org]
That is a tall order, but to quote President John F. Kennedy in his famous “Peace Speech,” given at American University in June 1963, “too many of us think it [peace] is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable—that mankind is doomed—that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.
We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable—and we believe they can do it again.”
The son of “Heart’s Sorrow,” Sir Vincent Lyn, would have the families in refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria recover from the endless war and inhumanity life has dealt them. It is up to humanity to make that happen.
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This article was first published by CovertAction Magazine.