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Police Violently Remove Activists Occupying Lebanon's Ministry of Environment

Supporters and protesters outside the Ministry of Environment building where #YouStink activists are staging a sit in. Photograph shared by Joey Ayoub on Twitter (@joeyayoub)

Supporters and protesters outside the Ministry of Environment building where #YouStink activists are staging a sit in. Photograph shared by Joey Ayoub on Twitter (@joeyayoub)

Updated at 20:47 GMT.

Security forces violently removed about 30 protesters from Lebanon's You Stink movement from the Ministry of Environment in Beirut. The activists had planned to occupy the building until the Minister of Environment stepped down for failing to address the country's trash crisis.

About 50 Lebanese protesters of the “You Stink” movement and other movements have announced an open occupation of the Ministry of Environment on Tuesday, hours before a 72 hour deadline to meet the protesters demands ended.

Minister Mohamad Machnouk was trapped in his office, as the government shut down the ministry, preventing more activists from joining the protesters, who stayed put, calling for Machnouk to resign. Authorities also cut off the electricity in the floor the sit in was being staged and has since deployed the army around Beirut. A squad of riot police were also sent in to the ministry, supposedly to deal with the sit in, who have reportedly started beating up the protesters.

Outside the ministry, hundreds of protesters have gathered, and the numbers continue to swell, to lend a hand to the sit in.

The protesters are chanting “leave leave” in reference to Minister Machnouk.

Al Hadath's correspondent: The minister of environment is being trapped inside the ministry by the You Stink movement

Other media channels are reporting that security forces are trying to get the minister out of the building through a back door. However the minister refuses to leave the building and wants to remain inside the building under the security's protection.

Communications coordinator at Human Rights Watch Rita Nehme confirms:

Meanwhile, people are starting to gather outside the ministry in Riyadh Al Solh in solidarity with the open occupation, and the police have locked the doors to prevent more people from joining the sit-in.

Luna Safwan tweets a picture of the protesters from inside the building:

First photos of #YouStink activists occupying the Environment Ministry now

Police Chief Mohammed Al Ayoubi had a meeting with the minister Al Machnouq and decided to allow a representative of the protesters to talk to the minister. However, the protesters turned down this deal and insisted on the resignation of the minister.

The Minister has announced yesterday his decision to suspend his participation from the newly formed ministerial committee that is tasked with finding a solution and managing Lebanon's trash crisis. However his decision was not good enough for the protesters who insist on his resignation from the position as a minister of environment.

AFP Beirut Correspondent Maya Gebeily reports:

Several pictures have been circulating on social media from the scenes inside and outside the ministry:

Police have been deployed to block all entrances that lead to the building, tweet Abit Ghattas:

Myra Abdulla shares a video of protesters trying to find other ways to get in:

Mashable news shares another video from inside the ministry:

Imad Bazzi, one of the You Stink leaders who is among the people inside the ministry, told the media that they are not planning to trash the ministry or destroy public institution, rather they are having a civilized sit-in to demand the resignation of the minister and won't leave until their demand is met. Outside, protesters echo the statement and confirm, they too will not leave the area until their demands are met.

In addition to Machnouk's resignation, the demands whose deadline ended today include a permanent, sustainable solution to the garbage crisis, which initially took the people to the streets. Other demands are holding accountable all those who have wasted public funds during the last period and holding accountable the minister of interior and all those who gave orders to open fire at the protesters.

You Stink has broadened its focus beyond officials’ mishandling of the refuse problem following the closure of the country's largest landfill in July. Members are now calling for the government's resignation, an end to corruption and fresh parliamentary elections, among other demands. Lebanon, already suffering from a poor infrastructure and daily electricity cuts, has had no president for over a year. In 2009, its parliament extended its term until 2017, with no elections, citing instability as a reason.

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