Hundreds Take to Streets in Nationwide Anti-Corruption Protests in Lebanon

Published January 13th, 2019 - 06:00 GMT
Protest in Lebanon (Twitter)
Protest in Lebanon (Twitter)

From Nabatieh in the south to the northernmost city of Akkar, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in nationwide anti-corruption protests Sunday after a similar protest was held in the capital a day ago.

The Lebanese Communist Party, Popular Nasserite Organization and other civil society organizations organized the protests, which, according to the state-run National News Agency, were also held in Tripoli, Zahle, Baalbeck, Aley, Chouf, Jounieh, Zouk Mosbeh and Sidon.

“All of the corruption needs to be addressed. We are here to pressure [the state] at one of its main centers of corruption,” a protester said on local TV during a protest in front of Zouk Mosbeh’s power plant, which lasted about an hour.

Riot police from the Internal Security Forces lined up to block the entrance to the power plant.

 

Some protesters waved flags of the Lebanese Communist Party, but one protester told reporters that he and many others did not belong to any political parties. “I am here because of corruption in the electricity sector and the pollution,” he said.

During a televised speech, one protest leader said the location was not only chosen to embody the fight to protect the environment and denounce the crumbling electricity sector, but because the power plant "is also a symbol of the political system’s failure. We allowed them to rob us of our dignity by accepting and remaining silent and not believing there is hope to change,” he said.

“They are killing us - with cancer, hunger and cold. Killing our dreams and lives,” he added, calling for another protest to to be held Jan. 20, to tell the political class “that we can replace them.”

In Sidon, hundreds gathered near the Central Bank building.

Hundreds more marched to the Nabatieh Serail.

“We’re moving backwards. We pay two bills each for electricity and water. We just want to live with dignity,” a protester in Nabatieh said, referring to bills paid to private electricity generators and water suppliers to supplement the state’s inadequate utility services.

A small protest in front of the serail in Zahle was focused on calling attention to the deteriorating economic situation, the NNA reported.

A speech read by Lebanese Communist Party organizers called for action to be taken against the pollution of rivers in the country, particularly the Litani and Berdawni.

They also called for “declaring a state of emergency regarding the increase of cases of cancer in Bekaa and to support cancer treatment.”

LCP organizers also called for lowering the wages of MPs and ministers while raising the minimum wage, as part of wider labor law reform and other measures to reduce unemployment.

The protest in Tripoli also saw a lower turnout. As protesters gathered in front of the regional office of the National Social Security Fund, an Al Jadeed correspondent interviewed a number of people standing on the sidelines. One of the onlookers said, “We do not trust the state or the country or the people. I am not participating because I don’t know the protesters’ backgrounds or who is backing them.”

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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