0

Comments

Facebook

Twitter

Google

send


NOW

Lebanon activists plan mass march

"What the movement must do is to rise to the level of the open battle that the authorities have launched against us."

#YouStink rally in Downtown Beirut. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

BEIRUT – A coalition of Lebanese civil activists groups have called for a mass march Sunday to demand Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk’s resignation after security forces beat and arrested dozens of protesters earlier in the week.

 

“We call for a mass rally on Sunday at 5 p.m. beginning from the Beirut River Bridge in Bourj Hammoud and ending at [Downtown Beirut’s] Nejmeh Square,” a committee bringing together the #YouStink, We Want Accountability and other movements announced Thursday.

 

“What the movement must do is to rise to the level of the open battle that the authorities have launched against us,” spokesperson Nidal Ayoub—who was arrested during Wednesday’s protest—declared.

 

The grassroots movements announced that they are now demanding the dismissal of the interior minister as well as Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk. They also said that they had put together an immediate environmental emergency plan to deal with Lebanon’s worsening trash crisis.

 

Lebanon’s government two weeks ago approved a plan to tackle waste management, however it has been rejected by the #YouStink movement and its implementation is now in doubt as local municipalities and environmental experts question key points of the measure.

 

Thursday’s renewed call to take to the streets comes after security forces beat and arrested dozens of protesters following the #YouStink movement's attempt to block Lebanese leaders from joining a national dialogue session.

 

Amid heavy security measures in the Downtown district, confrontations erupted between riot police and protesters at the morning protest, with a number of pictures, videos as well as television feeds showing clear-cut cases of police brutality.

 

“What happened [Wednesday] is a new episode in the authorities [attempt] to contain the movement,” Ayoub announced in the Thursday press conference.

 

“In comparison with the previous attacks, the extent of violence yesterday was unprecedented,” she said, adding that “there is a clear decision by the authorities to put an end to the movement.”

 

#YouStink announced that 40 demonstrators were arrested Wednesday, while activists reported a number of civil society organizers had been detained in the heavy-handed security sweep, including a hunger striker who had gone 14-days without food and was released in the late afternoon. 

 

The arrests prompted civil society organizations to call for a sit-in Wednesday evening in Downtown Beirut until the release of the detained protesters.

 

Approximately 2,000 activists gathered at Riad al-Solh Square following the day of violence, dispersing only after authorities released detainees in the night.

 

“The release of the detainees yesterday in record time and under the pressure of the street… is a new achievement that adds to this movement’s credit,” Ayyoub declared.

 

Lebanon’s interior minister, for his part, told As-Safir in an interview published Friday that resigning from his post was not necessary, saying he would only resign if he knew it “guaranteed the right to peaceful assembly” or “solved the problems of the country.”

 

On Wednesday, Nohad Machnouk claimed that some protesters “are looking for someone to beat them so they can bleed on the street.”

 

“There are those who want to show that they were beaten up or wounded, they want to be depicted as the victims and the oppressed,” he said in an interview on the TV outlet of his political party, the Future Movement.

 

He further claimed that the grassroots anti-government movement is “severely limited.”

 

The coalition of activist groups was not deterred by Machnouk's comments, saying that “the popular movement will continue to confront the corrupt, criminal authorities.”

 

“The street is ours, today and tomorrow, no withdrawal, no surrender. Power, authority and wealth belong to the people.”

#YouStink rally in Downtown Beirut. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

The street is ours, today and tomorrow, no withdrawal, no surrender. Power, authority and wealth belong to the people.