An Abbotsford mom whose two kids were illegally taken to Lebanon by their father last year has made physical contact with them and is urging the Canadian government to help her in her battle to bring them home.
Shelley Beyak is currently in Beirut, where her son Liam, 8, and Mia, 10, are now living with their father, Wissam Tarabichi, and she has had some visits with them.
Beyak was first able to speak with her kids over the holidays, and a post was shared on the “Bring Mia and Liam Home” Facebook page on Jan. 1.
“Much thanks to all who helped make this happen and pray this will become the norm until they are returned to Canada,” the post stated.
An update on Jan. 30 indicated that Beyak was in Beirut and had seen the kids “over the past few weekends.”
“We are so grateful for the contact, and hope this is the beginning of resolution,” the post stated.
Details of how these events transpired were not shared, and The Abbotsford News has not yet been able to reach Beyak in Beirut.
Meanwhile, Beyak’s situation has been raised in the House of Commons, with Abbotsford MP Ed Fast and Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene in the matter.
“Lebanese court orders aren’t being enforced, and it appears the only thing that will help is a presidential order. This will require intervention from the prime minister,” Fast said.
Doherty raised the issue during question period on Feb. 1.
He said Trudeau received a petition last September with more than 930 signatures from Canadians urging him to intervene in the matter. He asked for unanimous consent to table the document.
Doherty said that when Beyak travelled to Beirut, her requests for an escort and translation services through Global Affairs Canada were denied.
“I find it appalling that the Canadian government refuses to get involved and provide any tangible means of support,” Doherty said.
“Justin Trudeau is letting the mother of two kidnapped children fend for herself in a hostile foreign country, and all she’s asking for is a little support.”
Mia and Liam have been in Lebanon since last spring. They were scheduled to travel on a court-approved trip to Seattle with their dad – who is from Beirut – over spring break.
They didn’t return for the start of school on April 3 at Margaret Stenersen Elementary in Abbotsford, and Beyak was notified.
It was then discovered that Tarabichi had indeed travelled to Seattle but, from there, he and the kids boarded a plane to Paris and then to Beirut, which does not recognize international parental kidnapping as a crime and where custody issues are often made by religious authorities.
Beyak then launched an extensive legal battle – expected to cost more than $200,000 – to have them returned home.
There is a Canada-wide warrant in place for Tarabichi’s arrest on a charge of abduction.