Civilians in the Military Court: Is Lebanon Sliding Into a New Age of Silencing Critics?

Published September 23rd, 2020 - 06:25 GMT
Civilians in the Military Court: Is Lebanon Sliding Into a New Age of Silencing Critics?
Three individuals have been asked to appear in the military court on Thursday for the first time. (Facebook: Yalda Younes)

While the country continues to suffer the grave consequences of the Beirut port blast, that rocked the capital city destroying thousands of residential buildings and killing about 200 people, Lebanese officials seem to be to determined to punish critical voices of activists, who have been protesting against the political elite and the corruption that has been affecting the country for decades.

Despite the Beirut tragic explosion being mainly attributed to political corruption, Lebanese activists have noted that their officials seem to have turned deaf ears to their demands.

Online, several Lebanese commentators have reported that at least three young men have been summoned to appear before a military court on Thursday, the 23rd of September, even though the three individuals are civilians and not military personnel.

The three men were reportedly arrested and brutally attacked back in January 2020 while they were taking part in protests near the Central Bank in Beirut.

Alexandre Paulikevitch has received a memo asking him to appear in court along with two other individuals named Dany Mortada and Amer Jamal as they face charges of resisting security forces and insulting the military institution.

Alexandre Paulikevitch is a prominent dancer, choreographer, and a political activist, while Dany Mortada is a political activist and a member of the Lebanese Communist Party, who was featured in a video report by Reuters last October when the country had witnessed its largest and longest mass protests against the rising cost of living and political corruption. The third individual has been identified as Amer Jamal and he too was arrested on the 14th of January 2020.

Many Lebanese social media users expressed their concern that their country is sliding into a new age of oppression and silencing critics by bringing them into military courts, even though Lebanon has always been known for its relatively higher record of freedom of speech, especially when compared to other neighboring countries in the region.

Two months ago, social media users reported yet another major violation of freedom of speech, when a well-known Lebanese TV presenter was also asked to appear in court; following remarks he made on-air criticizing the Turkish president's decision to revert the historic Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul into a mosque. The presenter was accused of "publicly and directly offending Erdogan and the Turkish people."

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