Lebanon News

Parliament police blame trash for clash

Protesters rally outside the French Embassy in Beirut ahead of the conference in Paris.

BEIRUT: Parliament police command issued a statement Wednesday claiming that the confrontation with protesters came after trash was thrown at police officers responsible for protecting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Ain al-Tineh residence. The statement added that an officer was injured midnight Tuesday and was transferred to the hospital. This led to clashes between the police and protesters.

Protesters had marched in front of the homes of various officials Tuesday evening, including Judge Ghada Aoun. They were attacked near Ain al-Tineh past midnight, with videos and images of damaged cars and protesters with bloodied faces circulated on social media

According to eyewitness accounts and footage circulating online, the protesters and their cars were attacked by men in police uniforms believed to be Parliament police. The statement, however, did not comment on these accounts.

“The command affirms its commitment to the laws and regulations pertaining to the right of citizens to peaceful protests and their freedom of speech,” the statement read.

It added that Parliament police has been dealing with protests in a positive manner and with the highest forms of discipline.

“A report has been prepared on ... events which will be referred to the Parliament’s presidency.”

Earlier Wednesday morning, on the 56th consecutive day of nationwide demonstrations, protesters across the country blocked roads and entrances to public institutions.

Protesters blocked main roads in Tripoli after the previous day’s clashes with the Lebanese Army in north Lebanon’s Mina.

Internal Security Forces were heavily deployed in the area and most schools and universities remained shut, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Protesters also blocked roads in Zahle. One protester blocked the entrance of the Creditbank in the area with a large truck.

The protests continued in Halba, where they blocked off roads and entrances to public institutions including the EDL, asking employees to stop working.

In Aley, dozens of protesters also blocked off the entrance to the Serail chanting “Revolution” and waving Lebanese flags.

Later in the morning, dozens of protesters stood in front of the French Embassy in Beirut. The crowd gathered ahead of a conference that took place in Paris Wednesday, and that aims at bringing together an international support group to tackle Lebanon’s economic and political crisis.

Demonstrators rejected foreign aid or assistance before the formation of a new national government that meets their demands.

The one-day conference aims to push Lebanon to form a new government and is co-chaired by France and the United Nations.

In light of the difficult economic situation and the dollar liquidity issue facing the country, attendees are expected to push Lebanon to adopt a series of reforms that would restore financial stability, fix longstanding issues in the Lebanese economic system and combat graft.

“We don’t want your money and we don’t want your help,” said a protester to Lebanese media.

Demonstrators also lit lanterns and released them into air later on in the evening. 

A group of demonstrators gathered in the evening outside the Interior Ministry in Sanayeh demanding that security forces peacefully deal with the protesters. 

In Beirut’s Azarieh Parking lot, the site of many discussions and lectures since the beginning of protests, an unidentified group attempted to burn “The Hub” tent by throwing incendiary devices at it. 

A similar attempt took place Tuesday night during a lecture in the tent which some protesters believed was against the Palestinian cause.

The same accusations were being shouted Wednesday, with slogans including “this tent is Zionist” and “death to Israel.”

Lebanon has been without a government since Saad Hariri’s resignation as prime minister on Oct. 29, offered in response to an unprecedented nationwide uprising against the ruling political elite.

Protesters, who have been on the streets since Oct. 17, are demanding the formation of a technocratic government to rescue the country’s economy. However, their calls have so far fallen on deaf ears, amid political squabbling over the new Cabinet.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 12, 2019, on page 2.

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