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NOW

Lebanon activists end
hunger strike

Waref Sleiman said Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk "has been held to account by the street and history."

Hunger striker. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

BEIRUT – The activists camped outside the Environment Ministry have ended their two-week old hunger strike demanding the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk.

 

“When we realized that the environment minister—who has been held to account by the street and history—has no guts, we decided to stop our hunger strike,” Waref Sleiman said in a Thursday press conference.

 

His comments come after the hunger strikers met with Machnouk on Tuesday, during which the environment minister reiterated that he would not resign, prompting the hunger strikers to insist they would keep up their protest while activists dumped trash outside the ministry.

 

Sleiman started his hunger strike on September 3, two days after #YouStink activist occupied the Environment Ministry in a dramatic protest that sparked a protracted start-off that ended with riot police forcibly removing the demonstrators.

 

The activist was shortly joined in his hunger striker by thirteen other youths discontented by the government’s failure to resolve the country’s worsening crisis. In the past two weeks, a number of the strikers were briefly rushed to hospitals for medical treatment.

 

Sleiman and two fellow hunger strikers were arrested Wednesday by security forces during their heavy handed crackdown of a peaceful protest in Downtown Beirut against the national dialogue session, only being released in the late evening along with dozens of other activists who had been detained.

 

In his press conference, Sleiman said that the Interior Ministry tried to strike a deal with him to end his hunger strike during his detention the day before.

 

“While I was under arrest yesterday, Interior Minister [Nohad Machnouk] asked me, through intermediaries, to stop my hunger strike in exchange for my release,” he claimed.

 

Sleiman noted that despite the decision to end the strike, one man was continuing his hunger strike while the other activists would rejoin the grassroots street actions protesting not only the trash crisis but Lebanon’s political class.

Hunger striker outside the Environment Ministry. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

While I was under arrest yesterday, Interior Minister [Nohad Machnouk] asked me, through intermediaries, to stop my hunger strike in exchange for my release.