Beirut: Policemen destroy fishermen’s homes to build luxurious business.

Dalieh is a waterfront area in Beirut and is one of the last public places that grant you direct access to the sea for free. Some businessmen, often very known politicians, don’t want it to be this way. They made sure that the fishermen living there for decades, will go away. Policemen raided the houses during last night, hitting persons, and eventually destroyed the small houses. Watch Al Jadeed report:

Solidere and Hariri’s family are behind the project of Dalieh and the destruction of the fishermen houses. Solidere is Lebanon’s largest developper and real estate company, founded by the deceased Rafiq al Hariri, ex-PM and the father of Saad al Hariri, also the ex-prime minister. Solidere is behind a lot of gargantuesque projects, including the scandalous Zaytuna bay, a resort with high-end restaurants and big yachts.

Habib Battah, a journalist, showed the dire situation of one these fishermen, Ali Itani, in this article.

He says some of the other fisherman have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to leave without a fuss. It’s a lucrative offer for those with so little, but Itani says he would be happy to stay, if someone would at least provide them with bare plumbing and tiled bathrooms. He flips through a stack of faded Polaroids from his youth: family gatherings from the 1970s before the towers went up, his boys catching fish, a younger version of himself leaping toward the Mediterranean with a Lebanese flag in his hand. At 50, he claims he can still do a forward flip dive.

Solidere has been controversial since its creation and it often crosses the boundaries of private companies. Human rights lawyer Muhamad Mugraby has described their behaviour as a “form of vigilantism under colour of the law”.

Former residents and business owners were compensated with shares in Solidere, rather than cash, at what many claim was well below the true value. Owners had the option to keep their property and return the shares, but only if they had sufficient funds to restore their buildings in line with Solidere’s strict preservation brief – which set high standards, too onerous for most to muster.

The Dalieh project will just be another lifeless elite program, just like the Beirut “Souks” (that doesn’t look like a Souk), Downtown Beirut and the Zaytunah Bay.

The chaotic post war context in Lebanon gave the legal context to Solidere to act and transform the city for its own profits, but here’s what says the Lebanese constitution about land expropriation. “Rights of ownership shall be protected by law. No one’s property may be expropriated except for reasons of public utility, in the cases established by law and after fair compensation has been paid beforehand”.

I don’t believe that “public utility” is the reason behind the Dalieh expropriation.

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