The Lebanese capital is expecting a new wave of protests Saturday. Last weekend rallies against the authorities’ inability to deal with the rubbish collection problems resulted in violent clashes with police and calls for the government to step down.
“In our life we have only one chance to be united and to make revolution against all the corruption people,” Salah Nowzeddine, a protester from the “You Stink” movement, told RT’s Paula Slier.
The situation has been tense in Beirut since July when the authorities stopped using one of the country’s main landfills in the town of al-Naameh, south of Beirut, and piles of rubbish began to appear on the streets of the capital.
On August 22, the protests turned violent, resulting in injuries among both protesters and police officers. Numerous videos released on social media show demonstrators throwing rocks and firecrackers at police. The officers responded with water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas to tackle the demonstrators.
Following Saturday protests the Lebanese prime minister, Tammam Salam, described force used against protesters as “excessive” and promised that those responsible would be held to account.
Later, Amnesty International called on the Lebanese authorities to investigate the use of excessive force of police on protesters.
“Lebanese security officials responded to overwhelmingly 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,” said Lama Fakih, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International.
Lebanese officials must uphold this right and send a clear message to security personnel that such attacks against peaceful protesters will not be tolerated… Even when responding to violence, security forces should never recklessly fire rubber bullets and other projectiles into crowds of protesters.”
Amnesty quoted Red Cross as saying that at least 343 people were treated for injuries and 59 more were hospitalized, following the rallies of August 22-23.
According to data from the country’s Internal Security Forces (ISF), 99 of their members had been injured in the protests, 30 of them seriously.
The political situation in Lebanon is very unstable, in part due to legislators being unable to pick a new president for more than a year.
Among the factors affecting the instability in the country are the war in neighboring Syria and the threat of Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL).