Beirut protests postponed amid fatal clashes

'You Stink' Monday protests postponed after deadly clashes stormed Lebanese capital and one protester died

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Lebanese protesters are sprayed with water during a protest against corruption and against the government's failure to resolve a crisis over rubbish disposal

Lebanese protesters decided to push Monday evening protests until further notice. 'You Stink' rallies have triggered fatal clashes with riot police in Beirut, killing one protester so far.

A press conference is scheduled to take place later in the day to explain their decision, the protests were scheduled at 6:00 pm Lebanon local time.

'You Stink' activist Lucien Bou Rjeili told VOL (93.3) radio station: "The protest that was scheduled for today has been postponed, but the activities will carry on in the coming days despite what happened in Riad al-Solh square yesterday."

One protester died of a wound he sustained on Saturday in Beirut during anti-corruption demonstrations, the Red Cross said.

The 'You Stink' protests rage on as police forces were deployed on the ground to tackle the increasing number of protesters demanding rubbish collection and denouncing corruption, as they called it a 'political dysfunction' in Lebanon, as well.

About 200 youths, some wearing scarves or masks to cover their faces, threw stones and bottles filled with sand at police and tried to pull down security barricades, Agence France-Presse reported.

The first fatality came as scores were brutally injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and Lebanese police officers. Some of the injured suffered smoke inhalation, and at least 40 were hospitalised according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Protesters blame of 'thugs' infliltrating demonstrations

Infiltrators reportedly succeeded in dissolving among the demonstrators in Central Beirut on Sunday, where they were throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.

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

The 'You Stink' campaign spokesperson denied any role in the violence that took place during the protest and blamed it on thugs that infiltrated the protests.

The 'You Stink' and other protest organizers pulled their supporters out of Riad al-Solh Square and moved to the Martyrs’ Square after men they described as political thugs or the infiltrators began fighting with police.

The Lebanese Amal Movement have been accused of being behind pushing infiltrators in Sunday’s riots during the peaceful protest of the 'You Stink' group, NNA reported. Amal Movement bureau released a statement on Monday morning, denying any involvement in the incident, after accusations overflowed on social media, pointing fingers at the movement and its Shiite rival Hezbollah.

No official response was released by Hezbollah so far.

Amal Movement leaders and Parliament speaker Lebanon Nabih Berri said “People have the right to yell but no alternative for cabinet amid presidential vacuum”, according to al-Mustaqbal newspaper. Berri described the clashes in downtown Beirut as “dangerous.”

Free Patriotic Movement chief, Michel Aoun was also accused of attempting to hijack the 'You Stink' cause. Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said on Monday that “all the political sides are attempting to hijack the peaceful demonstration,” pointing that Prime Minister Tammam Salam was always positive with Free Patriotic Movement ministers.

Witnesses reported that while the 'You Stink' members seemed to be highly educated and acted in a very orderly manner, the thugs acted like beasts.

Salam declared in a press statement on Sunday, following the Beirut protests, that if the cabinet does not make the decisions on the list he is to put in before them in a meeting scheduled for Thursday, a collapse is probable for the country.

“I will not be part of this collapse. Let each side and political forces bear its responsibility and know the facts,” he warned.

Salam had previously promised accountability for the use of “excessive force against civil society and against the people.”

Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International LBCI reported that the Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut has asked its nationals not to travel to Lebanon and those residing in the country to leave it because of the security situation.

Lebanon has been without a president for a year as factions within the government have failed to agree on who it should be.

The country’s public debt is also higher than its GDP, according to a government source cited by Reuters.



TRTWorld and agencies