Mom wants proof kids who were allegedly abducted to Lebanon are safe after explosion
VANCOUVER -- Shelley Beyak wants proof that her two Canadian children, who were allegedly abducted by their father and brought to Lebanon, are safe, after an explosion devastated the country’s capital on Tuesday.
Beyak, who lives in Abbotsford and has shared custody of the kids, has been trying to get Liam and Mia back to Canada since 2018.
When she heard news of the explosion in Beirut, she reached out to their father, who is her ex-husband, right away.
“My heart dropped. My first thought was 'Where are my kids? Are they OK?’”
"I tried not to panic,” she said.
The children’s father, Wissam Tarabichi, is wanted by police in Canada, and will face criminal charges if he returns. Beyak says that when he took the children to Lebanon in March 2018, he had told her he was taking them to Seattle for a vacation.
Although Beyak hasn’t been able to reach Tarabichi or her son and daughter on her own, she says Global Affairs Canada has since been in contact with her ex-husband and he said the children are OK.
“I asked Global Affairs for proof of that, and he didn’t provide (them with) any.”
Beyak has made extensive efforts to get Liam and Mia back, but Lebanon does not recognize Canadian custody orders. She went to the country back in 2019, when she worked with a lawyer to try and bring them home. During that time she was able to have a few short visits with her children.
Tuesday's blast in Beirut killed at least 149 people and wounded more than 5,000. Lebanon is in the grip of a severe economic crisis, and anti-government protests have rocked the city since the disaster.
The Canadian government is giving more than $5 million to support the explosion relief efforts in Lebanon and specified that the money will go to reputable aid organizations, and not the Lebanese government.
Beyak says she wants to see similar attention paid to the case of her young kids in Lebanon, who are Canadian citizens.
“I’m a mom, I’m a law-abiding Canadian citizen. Their dad took them to Lebanon against legal court orders here in Canada," she said.
In 2019 the then parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, told CTV News that she had been in contact with the family personally, but "due to the provisions of the Privacy Act" could not share any details of how the government is working to help them.
Beyak is again asking for more help.
"The government of Canada has not stepped up enough to bring justice to my kids. With the millions of dollars they’re spending over in Lebanon right now, what I keep asking is where is the justice for my children, where is the justice for my case, and for me?”
With files from Maria Weisgarber, Angie Seth and Ryan Flanagan.