Last Wednesday after hearing an insult against Nabih Berri by a protester, Amal Movement supporters rushed to the scene, destroyed the tents of the hunger strikers, threw huge stones and bricks at the peaceful protesters. They were enraged by the insult. They may have been directly sent by the Amal bureaus or just came spontaneously, either way they’re the victims of the Lebanese sectarian system. And of course, this post doesn’t defend at all their condemnable actions.
The first victims of the Lebanese sectarian system are those lost men who threw bricks at the peaceful protesters Wednesday, because of an insult against “their” leader.
The “Movement of Hope” has a nice name, but a dreamy one. It may have given hope, but what did it give to the supporters and to ALL Lebanese? Did it give them electricity? Water? Did it remove the garbage from the streets? No.
The “Future Party” also has a nice name, it also gives hope, but it gave nothing real.
It only gave baseless pride. “We the Shias were oppressed before the Movement of Hope.”
“We the Sunnis were oppressed before the Future Party”.
See where is the problem? “We the Shias/Sunnis” instead of “we the people”. Were oppressed? No, we are ALL STILL oppressed. We the people, are oppressed by the entire political class.
The current political parties play with our religious identities, and they transform too many hopeless souls into souls of hate and rejection. The poor stay poor, only he has the useless weapon of the sectarian pride against everything and everyone.
So I urge all the people to think about the political parties, what has they brought to Lebanon as a WHOLE? I urge all the followers of mainstream political parties to think, take a step back, see if their socio-economical status were improved over the years. They’ll understand why it’s time to abandon these parties that mock us and jail us in the sectarian prison.
I filmed this video the 28th of August, before the huge mass demonstration of the 29th.
Nibal Abdel Khalek were brutally beaten and arrested for more than three days by the Lebanese police. His crime? He was passing near the police force. He was arrested around 11:30PM on the 23rd of August.
Dozens of protesters were treated like Nibal Abdel Khalek, brutalized by the state. It’s as if the authorities wanted to send a message to the protesters, to dissuade them.
Here’s what Nibal wrote on his facebook profile after his release.
I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who checked on me. I got arrested 4 days ago while protesting against the corruptions that are taking place in my country. I got attacked by the police and beat up badly. I was bleeding for two days in a small jail cell with no medical assistance. I was very mistreated. I had no access to my phone or my basic rights and was not allowed to contact any of my family members. I did not know if anyone knows where I am.
I got released last night. I want to thank every single person who tried to help getting me released.
I had two choices, either leave the country like many or stand up for my rights.
I was one of the many activists / protesters that held a sit-in inside the environment ministry. Here’s what happened from the moment we met to the moment we were forcibly thrown out.
We met the same day, before the sit-in, and discussed the plan and the probable outcomes. The first thing we said is that this isn’t an occupation, just a sit-in in a public space. We wouldn’t close the offices, the employees would be free to move, and we would of course let the minister freely move.
We separated ourselves in groups and moved to the ministry accordingly in order to not seek attention. We went there and entered very peacefully, but quite quickly because the single policeman was “feeling something”. (Fun fact: he was playing Candy Crush according to another protester).
We were in.
Before continuing, I want to say something important. The building stairs gave access to two corridors, we held a sit-in in the right section and the minister was on the left. No single protester was on the left section so the minister could move freely, and even if we were on the same section, the minister could always move in and out. It wasn’t an occupation so I condemn every media and person that call it an occupation.
In fact we, the protesters, were under occupation.
When we first got in, some head of security personnel tried to remove the phone from one of us and tried to made us get up forcefully, we shouted on him. They tried to close the door and trap us but some protesters didn’t let them and sat on the door. We began chanting, applauding, clapping and shouting.
Shortly after, policemen, not from the police force, tried to remove us by carrying us, but they couldn’t. They didn’t hit us.
Employees were filming us and were smiling at us, they could move freely but soon got out of the building because their schedule was done. The media kept pouring inside the corridor we were in. Some policemen and responsible went in and out. They moved freely, and we shouted “peaceful” every time they passed.
Then began the psychological war.
The responsible / policeman began by shutting the access to the bathroom. The bathroom had a small window giving the view on the small square under the ministry, that’s where we could breath and salute the other protesters. It was the only access to air and oxygen to the corridor.
Then they shut off the air conditioner coming from inside the offices. And we kept hearing news from the media; how the police force entered the building, how the interior ministry renewed his 30 minutes deadlines to get us out of the building.
We kept chanting, just lower in order to save our energy. The media was still inside at the moment. We rejected negotiations with the minister or anyone representing him. We wanted him to resign because he didn’t do anything proper regarding the garbage crisis. It’s as simple as that. The previous day he even left his position from the committee dealing with the crisis. An environment minister leaving his duties responsibilities concerning the worst environmental crisis Lebanon in recent years should just resign.
The psychological war escalated when they began shutting every door and when they turned off the lights JUST ABOVE us. We kept hearing news on the location of the police force, and we applauded every time 30 minutes passed. We knew the police force were just near us and closed the right and left exits of the corridor.
We didn’t know exactly whether the minister was still inside the building.
The media were asked to leave, and the panic started because it’s just inadmissible to ask the media to leave in a “free” country. It was censorship, plain and clear. Some media personnel acted accordingly, other reporters and journalists resisted. We formed a line and didn’t let the remaining pass. Most of them wanted to stay but they were forced by the police to leave. The police broke the line and pushed the quasi-totality of the reporters out of the corridor. The camera-man from BBC Arabic, the cameraman from LBCI, the LBCI reporter Foutoun Raad and the radio reporter of Jarass Scoop were the last journalists. The police cut the lines of LBCI broadcasting vehicle under the building so the reporter Foutoun Raad kept doing her job via her phone. No images were filmed from a television camera after that. Soon after, her and the remaining reporters were literally carried and thrown away. Just Joe Maalouf from LBCI stayed with us and the cameraman (without his camera let’s stress) stayed. We began writing our name on a piece of paper because we knew something bad could happen.
The force were closing in near the right and they were 5 meters away from us when some responsible shouted on them.
“Who told you to enter now! Go back! GO BACK!!” and another responsible told him, obviously lower in rank. “Yes “Sidi” (Sir)!
They weren’t even coordinating with each unit! So we felt those coming from the right wanted to give us a good beating.
Some responsible from the police collecting stupid medals all over his shirt told us “it weren’t the way” and that “there are principles”. We shouted at him that we were ready to be arrested but the minister should just resign. We kept extending our arms, as a sign that we were ready to be handcuffed.
And so begin the kidnapping from the right side of the corridor, where I was. Those who didn’t want to get up were savagely beaten with the heavy sticks and boots. The most beaten one were Lucien Bourjeily. They hit him, stepped on him like some piece of meat. There were at least 4 policemen on him, beating him endlessly. Those who dared to defend him were also severely beaten. I didn’t resist and got up.
I was pushed and insulted, I was also beaten with the heavy stick on my back, but not severely (I have small traces), all of this while shouting: “I’m peaceful and I didn’t hit you, don’t hit me!”. Some answered accordingly, but most of them just kept giving slaps on our heads. A scene that I remember very well was when we were going down the stairs, policemen were above us in the staircase, they waited for us to turn our back in order to keep pushing us and hitting us.
Another scene that I can’t forget is how one policeman pushed me on the stairs and I fell. He didn’t have to do this as I was offering zero resistance. Both of my legs and my left hand still badly hurt.
Some policemen may get an adrenaline rush pushing a man on the stairs, making him fall.
I couldn’t see Lucien at that point, we were separated into multiple small groups to descend those endless stairs. Some policemen were smiling and didn’t wear any armour and helmet. Others thought they were dealing with IS members. From time to time insults came. “C’mon you dogs! Yalla you animals!”
We were thrown like garbage outside the ministry and I landed on other protesters. Lucien was crying and shouting because of his pain and shock and was transported quickly to the hospital.
Media then followed us and wanted testimonies, some of those media / newspapers / tv’s said we were occupying the ministry and that we were some kind of threat to the minister.
The label “occupation” is wrong because to occupy is to remove access and exit to the ministry. We didn’t take the ministry as our possession. We never did that. I repeat, the police and government occupied us, not the contrary.
Few hours later, the remaining protesters were thrown out in the same manner, after the minister ran away. The minister still thinks that resigning is losing.
Yesterday people of conscience protested in the Downtown district of Beirut, near the government and the parliament. I was there to take pictures and videos but to also manifest my frustration and anger over the matter.
Downtown not only hosts the useless government, but it is also the symbol of Solidere, a company that renovated the district and destroyed its heritage. Solidere and Sukleen, the company that manages the garbage of Lebanon, are, let’s say, cousin companies managed by political businessmen. That’s what happens when you mix politics and personal interests.
Naameh landfill have been legitimately and lawfully closed by protesters theJuly 17th, the contract with Sukleen were expired but the government of Lebanon didn’t find any alternative before the deadline (or forgot to search for one over other political matters).. The government did decide on something last Thursday, in the midst of the crisis, they decided to postpone the decision over the matter to next Tuesday (great job people).
Finding another landfill won’t solve the issue, though many think it’s the problem. Nobody wants a dangerous landfill near their towns and villages, and the so-called solutions have already angered the people affected to it.
A solution have already been submitted to the government by a group of green activists 1 year and a half ago. Let Paul Abi Rached, president of T.E.R.R.E Liban environment NGO explains it to you. (Video in Arabic)
Here’s the little montage of the protest I’ve made and the pictures I’ve taken.