Violent Repression of Corruption Protest in Lebanon Injures Dozens


Thousands gathered in downtown Beirut on Saturday to demonstrate against governmental corruption which has led to garbage piling up on the streets since the closure of the city’s main landfill a month ago.

Live ammo, water cannon’s, rubber bullets, tear gas and batons were deployed by police. Around 30 people, including a police officer, have been taken to hospitals, RIA Novosti reported, citing local emergency services. According to The Daily Star citing the Red Cross, at least 15 people were injured in Saturday’s clashes. Dozens of demonstrators have been reportedly detained. LBCI News confirmed that one man was shot by police using live rounds and hit in the hip.

There were no violent acts or tendencies by the protesters, and people were there with their families in a very peaceful climate,” one protester told The Daily Star. The demonstrator was attending the rally with her two children, and said she “could not believe that they would act with this brutal behavior.”

The protest, under the banner “You Stink #طلعت_ريحتكم” was peaceful for several hours.

The situation escalated quickly when police forces fired their weapons into the air in an attempt to clear the square. Water Cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas were used on people shortly after. Moments when police began using water cannons and tear gas.

The police repression lasted for about an hour before reports surfaced online that a man had been shot in the hip with a live round by police. The sound of gunfire was continuously heard through the streets, AP reported, adding that its correspondent also saw riot police using batons to beat back protesters.

In a video posted to Facebook that has had over 100k views in 5 hours woman who was taken by security forces after she kicked a tear gas canister back towards police was reported by witnesses to have been beaten up.

Police kidnapping and beating a woman.Police kidnapping and beating a woman.

Posted by ‎طلعت ريحتكم‎ on Saturday, August 22, 2015

Despite the repressive actions, people at the scene continued to resist and called for an indefinite sit-in. Several hundred remain in the square and tents have been erected.

In an article titled  “Lebanese Government Declares War Against Peaceful #YouStink Protesters” IBCgroupTV reported:

Live tracer rounds and rubber bullets were used, tear gas bombs, and water cannons targeted families, men, women, and children indiscriminately; who, for the first time in a very long time gathered under no religious or political context to make their voices heard against corrupt rulers who have hijacked the country, and who are playing musical chairs with one another in a never-ending revolving door of power acquisition. The security forces knowingly threw tear gas and opened water cannons on a crowd where there were scores of children, many of them in their strollers. The political class is opaque and exclusive, comprised of oligarchs, war criminals and supposed populists who stoke religious divisions of the population to reinforce their own political clout.

But, today was different. Today, citizens from all walks of life from all over Lebanon gathered to exercise their democratic right to peaceful assembly. It wasn’t about religion, March 8, or March 14—the demand was clear. The government has to resign. Perhaps, this is why the situation was made to escalate, because this protest was moving the discussion away from the usual political discourse that always ends at an impasse.

Currently, hundreds of protesters are at a standoff with security forces. They are erecting tents and refusing to leave the scene until the entire government resigns, the parliament is dissolved, and all protesters who have been detained are released.

The presidency in Lebanon has been vacant for over a year, and the government of national unity has been maintaining the position of central authority in the country. Amid war in neighboring Syria, the 2009 elected parliament in Lebanon has extended its term on the grounds of regional instability, postponing parliamentary elections until 2017.

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