Lebanese Students Demonstrate Against Syrian Military Presence
The Free Patriotic Movement will go ahead with its demonstration against the Syrian military presence and its influence over Lebanese affairs.
The movement plans to hold sit-ins on all university campuses Thursday to protest the Syrian presence and mark the date when former Army Commander Michel Aoun launched a “war of liberation” on March 14, 1989 against Syrian troops deployed in the country.
Student protesters will also head to some Syrian checkpoints located near universities and government institutions to submit a written petition requesting a military withdrawal.
“We will not postpone our action,” said George Haddad, the movement’s media officer, following reports that the Interior Ministry would crack down on a protest that did not include a statement informing the ministry of routes the demonstration will take.
However, the ministry said it would respect the “sanctity” of campuses and would not intervene in protests taking place in their confines, the Lebanese Daily Star reported.
The Free Patriotic Movement has not officially informed the ministry of its plans, arguing that its public announcement of the protest was sufficient. “As soon as we announced Sunday our plan to demonstrate on March 14, dozens of our supporters have been receiving anonymous phone calls threatening that ‘we will break your legs if you participate in the demonstrations,’” Haddad said.
Student supporters of the National Liberal Party and the Phalange Rank-and-File did not commit to the demonstration, but said they wanted to participate in the university sit-ins.
A flyer distributed outside Universite Saint Joseph campus and parts of Achrafieh sent a covert warning to those protesting the Syrian presence. Signed by the unknown “Independent Lebanon Youth,” the flyer said: “Reconstruction, reform and critique do not happen through a negative (attitude), but through constructive work … and by standing next to the president, the army, the security forces, all our armed forces and the brotherly Syrian Arab Army which has been helping protect the nation and people’s security.” (Albawaba.com)
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