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Peaceful Protestors Face Riot Police Brutality in Lebanon

A mother and her children escape teargas fired by police on protesters in Beirut yesterday. Photograph by Sara El Ali

A mother and her children escape teargas fired by police on protesters in Beirut yesterday. Photograph by Patrick Mouzawak shared on Facebook


Teargas, water cannons and live bullets: this is the violent response that awaited the peaceful protesters of the #YouStink movement who gathered at Riad El Solh in Beirut on Saturday, August 22 to demand a solution to the garbage crisis in Lebanon.

An estimated 10,000 people came in what appeared to be good spirits to call for a “sustainable solution to Lebanon's waste disposal problem.” On July 17, the country's largest landfill was closed and rubbish started piling all over Beirut as officials continued to mishandle the refuse problem. Rubbish and summer did not go hand in hand, and as the waste bags continued to pile up along the streets of Beirut, the appalling stench poisoned the air, rubbing Lebanese people in the nose.

Many of those who turned up at the protest were wearing costumes and some brought their young children along. Extreme security measures taken by the army and riot police were at first more a joke than anything else, but tension escalated dramatically when security forces responded with disproportionate violence, catching protesters and the press off-guard.

Photographer Karim Mostafa shared on Twitter photographs of what became a violent confrontation fueled by the riot police's brutality:

Brutality at this scale highlighted a reality that many have been turning a blind eye to. In response, protesters have staged a parliament sit-in until the resignation of parliament members and elections are held. Lebanon, already suffering from a poor infrastructure and daily electricity cuts, has had no president for more than a year. In 2009, its parliament extended its term until 2017, with no elections, citing instability as a reason.

Nancy Fakhoury shared a video showing protestors chanting on August 23, on day 2 of the sit-in.

Also read: ‘You Stink’ Protesters Call for the Resignation of the Lebanese Government

Also read our coverage on Global Voices Checkdesk

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