Amnesty demands Lebanon investigates use of excessive force

Amnesty International calls on Lebanon to seek-out security personnel who used excessive force against protesters raging against government over garbage crisis

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Police forces use water cannons on people who are protesting due to uncollected garbage crisis in Beirut, Lebanon

Updated Aug 31, 2015

Amnesty International urged Lebanon on Saturday to investigate the country’s security personnel after they used excessive force to disperse anti-government protesters in Beirut last week, before another mass protest in the capital.

Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International Lama Fakih said that "Lebanese security officials responded overwhelmingly to peaceful protesters in downtown Beirut by shooting into the air with live rounds, firing rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and water cannons, and in some cases hurling stones and beating protesters with batons and rifles."

An estimated 200 youths, using scarves or masks to cover their faces to be unrecognised by the officials, threw stones and bottles filled with sand at police and tried to pull down security barricades.

Last week, security forces fired water cannons and tear gas on the demonstrators, some of whom threw stones and sticks at the police.

By quoting figures from Red Cross, Amnesty said that at least 343 people were treated for injuries and 59 more were hospitalised after the protests.

One protester was killed on Saturday in Beirut during the anti-corruption demonstrations, the Red Cross said.

According to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), infiltrators succeeded in blending in with the demonstrators in Central Beirut on Sunday, where they were throwing molotov cocktails at security forces.

“Participants in the protest also set the barbed wire on fire using a burning tire, after which they portioned it and began throwing portions at the security forces,” NNA added.

The “You Stink” campaign started to demand the resignation of the government, failing to overcome political differences and inability of the government to collect the mass loads of garbage on the streets affecting people’s health. The protest was the third demonstration since the garbage crisis emerged last month, since the closure of the landfil.

A 32-year-old resident in Beirut said that “you can tell by looking around that this protest is basically being attended by Beirut's 'elite', at the same time, if you're not going to come down to protest against this issue, then you shouldn't complain about the state of the country."  

One speaker took the microphone and said the critical words summing up situation during the protests "we are here because we've seen that if a garbage collector is absent for a day, it affects us more than having an absent president."

While the government tried to find a new solution for the uncollected garbage crisis, the powerful secterian Shiite Muslim party Hezbollah and its Christian allies withdrew from the emergency cabinet meeting, in protest against a proposed disposal plan on Tuesday.

Lebanon has been without a president for over a year, unable to elect a new one since May 2014, due to parliament’s failure to meet a two-thirds working majority required to hold an electoral session. 

TRTWorld and agencies