BEIRUT POLICE FIRE TEAR-GAS AT PROTESTERS
"There is only one war that matters: the Great War. And, it is here."
— Jon Snow
At 13:27 GMT on the 8th of August, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition at civilians. The reason: Rebellion.
Around 10,000 Lebanese citizens were protesting against their government’s negligence, which resulted in the fatal explosion there this week. They wanted politicians to be held responsible for having blood on their hands, the blood of 158 lost lives.
Their calls for accountability were met with tear gas by the Police. They fired tear gas at protestors when they attempted to cross barriers and make it to the parliament building. As if the tear gas wasn’t enough, soldiers, empowered by the emergency, made use of sticks to beat civilians, a small number of whom responded by throwing rocks and firecrackers at them. It is confirmed that rubber bullets had been fired during the course of this demonstration, but it is still unclear who was responsible for the firing.
The clashes resulted in injuries to more than 738 protesters, out of which sixty-three have been transported to nearby hospitals and 175 have been treated at the scene of the protests.
At least fourteen journalists and other media workers have been injured while covering the Beirut protest. Moreover, authorities have been accused of using excessive force whilst confronting protestors.
The Lebanese army has issued a statement on Twitter, asking protesters not to damage public property. The tweet read:
"The Army's command expresses its understanding of the pain that is in the hearts of the Lebanese people ... and reminds the protesters of the obligation to adhere to peaceful means of expression, and refrain from blocking roads and encroaching on public and private property,"
During the riots, a policeman was killed when he fell into the elevator shaft of a building after being chased by protesters.
By 15:01 GMT, dozens of protesters, led by retired army officers, had taken over Lebanon’s foreign ministry. They hung up red banners, which read, "Beirut, capital of the revolution."
“We are staying here. We
call on the Lebanese people to occupy all the ministries.”, said a demonstrator on a megaphone. However, their outrage lasted only three hours because the army stormed the ministry and threw the protestors out, ending their demonstration at the ministry…or at least temporarily ending it.
But, they were deadly serious about encouraging people to occupy ministries because that’s precisely what happened.
Another group broke into the Ministry of the Economy, and burnt a framed portrait of President Michel Aoun before sending papers raining down, onto the sidewalk. As the documents fell to the ground, the crowd began picking them up and sifting through, looking for evidence of systemic corruption by the political elite of Beirut.
A group of protesters have even stormed Lebanon's Association of Banks, as well as the Lebanese energy ministry as part of their attempt to take over the nation's ministries.
Fortunately for the protestors, their efforts did not go in vain. In a televised address yesterday evening, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that he was going to introduce a draft bill at the Parliament to hold early elections. He did not specify when the elections would be held, but said that if the bill passed, he would retain his post for two months.
As of now, it seems like the people of Beirut are not going to be satisfied with early elections; they want more. They want answers from those responsible for the blast, those responsible for the corruption that spanned over many years and those responsible for destroying what could have been the beautiful near future of Lebanon.
Reporter- Haneen Farid