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Posts Tagged ‘You Stink Movement

Anger Over Garbage in Lebanon: Plausible that it will Blossom into Demands for Reform of militia system

BEIRUT—Weeks of protests over mounds of uncollected trash in Lebanon’s capital have grown into a broader antigovernment campaign, echoing those that have transformed the political landscape elsewhere in the Middle East.

Demands by the “You Stink” movement and its supporters for a change of Lebanon’s leadership—heard in chants for the “downfall of the regime”—face a challenge: The country has no coherent government to overthrow and no opposition to take its place.

Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim militia and political party, has declared its support for the grass-roots rallies, which are scheduled to resume in central Beirut on Saturday and could be this year’s largest.

Past calls for political overhauls in Lebanon also collided with the country’s sectarian-militia based political system.

But those arrangements, a legacy of both the country’s drive for independence in the 1940s and its ruinous 1975-1990 civil war, have proved remarkably durable despite widespread dissatisfaction.

The system’s resilience has led even some veteran activists to dismiss the latest talk of revolution in this country of 4.5 million people.

“The slogan, ‘Down with the regime’,” isn’t realistic,” said Joanna Nassar, 32, who for years has campaigned on issues that include the Arab-Israeli conflict and civil marriage.

“If there is hope in Lebanon, it’s more of a reform thing than a change of regime. If change is possible, it’s through institutions and laws,” Ms. Nassar said.

Many “You Stink” protest organizers say they don’t wish to see the kind of Arab Spring demonstrations that ended in civil war or a return to authoritarian rule. Instead, they hope to galvanize support around ridding the government of its constitutionally mandated sectarianism and building ties across Lebanon’s often deep religious and political divides.

Still, most of the country’s veteran activists hold out little hope that Lebanon’s latest political ferment will lead to political change.

“I’m very happy for what’s happened, but I’m also very cautious. Maybe it’s experience,” said Haitham Chammas, an activist unaffiliated with any political party who has helped organize demonstrations and participated in advocacy groups in Lebanon since the early 1990s.

Last Sunday’s demonstrations turned violent, as police fired tear gas and hoses at thousands of protesters gathered in front of the office of Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

More than 400 demonstrators and members of the security forces were wounded in the melee, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. “You Stink” organizers decided to delay planned daily protests after 32 demonstrators were arrested, Lebanon’s state news agency reported. (The Minister of Interior admitted over 100 were detained)

Lebanon’s state prosecutor appointed a military prosecutor this week to investigate accusations of police abuse, and Mr. Salam said protesters “have the right to stand up to what happened and even hold officials accountable.”

Even Lebanese who didn’t participate in the street demonstrations say the protests over government ineffectiveness and ineptitude are justified. Power shortages have become chronic, and the economically stretched country now has more than one million Syrian refugees in its territory.

The latest crisis began in July after residents near a large landfill south of Beirut, worried about possible environmental hazards, blocked garbage trucks from unloading trash. Unable to locate an alternate dump site, authorities allowed trash to accumulate on Beirut’s streets.

On Tuesday, Mr. Salam held an emergency meeting of his cabinet to address the garbage problem but adjourned without agreeing on a solution.

Even on the best of days, Lebanon’s government, made up of seven main political parties grouped in two opposing blocs, barely operates.

  1. The country hasn’t had a president for more than a year.

2. Legislative elections haven’t been held since 2009. Parliament is rarely able to achieve a quorum to conduct business, yet has renewed its mandate until 2017 on what many Lebanese say are dubious legal grounds.

The current government paralysis is partly the result of a political system constructed by quota. Each cabinet position and parliamentary seat is distributed among Lebanon’s 19 officially recognized religious sects, including Sunni Islam, Shiite Islam, Maronite Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians and followers of the ancient Druse faith.

“You have 18 different dictators, represented by the sectarian community,” Ms. Nassar said. “It’s by nature dysfunctional.”

But even as Lebanese complain about their sectarian system, the country’s political establishment hews to it, said Firas Maksad, a Lebanese political analyst and founder of the Washington-based consultancy Global Policy Associates.

Even widely popular secular movements such as the “You Stink” campaign are unlikely to persuade voters to support candidates outside their own sect, Mr. Maksad said.

“I actually think that Lebanon’s archaic sectarian system is deep in patronage and corrupt, but it’s also an accurate reflection of Lebanese society,” he said. “I think the Lebanese with the garbage crisis are being forced to face their own rotten reality.”

Veteran activist Gilbert Doumit said he still plans to attend “You Stink” protests, though he said he is heartbroken by decades of failed overhaul efforts.

“I don’t have high hopes anymore for such movements,” he said. “I literally failed in every movement that I’ve been involved in. One of the symptoms of the political environment we’re living in now is my failure, and the failure of the people of my generation.”

Note: Since the Syrian troops vacated Lebanon in 2005, the main Lebanese former militia leaders ruled Lebanon.  The control of Syria over their greed dwindled and they grabbed the public funds and every donation and loan that the government received.

This ruling triumviri of Nabih Berry, Walid Jumblat and the political representative of the Hariri clan Fouad Seniora refused to invest in any infrastructure so that the citizens paid twice for every facility that the State was supposed to shoulder. 

Patsy Z shared this post of Gilbert Doumit

I said “I don’t have high hopes anymore for such movements”, but I continued and it is not mentioned in the article “unless those movements transform into a political platform with a clear agenda, leadership and organization, and therefore becomes a serious opponent capable of either changing the political will or the political elite itself.”

Calls for political reform, however, collide with country’s entrenched, sectarian-based political system.|By Matt Bradley and Dana Ballout

Witnesses Detail Police Violence: Lebanon #You Stink movement

(Beirut) – Lebanese authorities should take immediate measures to ensure that there is no repeat of violence against protestors in downtown Beirut and that perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable, Human Rights Watch said today.

(How can the government stops violence if the godfather of the militia gangs, Nabih Berry and Chairman of the parliament for over 30 years, ordered the parliament guards and the army protecting the parliament to open live ammunition on the peaceful protestors?)

Lebanese security personnel used rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, butts of rifles, and batons to control protesters on August 22 and 23 in downtown Beirut.

Security forces also fired live ammunition, reportedly in the air, to disperse protesters.

On August 23, Lebanon’s state prosecutor Samir Hammoud tasked military prosecutor judge Sakr Sakr, who under Lebanese law has jurisdiction over crimes committed by the security forces, to investigate the violence. Lebanese authorities should ensure that the investigation into violence by security forces is independent, effective, and transparent, and that security personnel responsible for unlawful use of force are held accountable.

The standoff with the security forces quickly escalated as security forces appeared to fire live ammunition in the air to disperse the protesters, who responded by throwing bottles and sticks at them. Human Rights Watch researchers later collected 5.56mm bullet casing cartridges – used in the M16 rifles issued to Lebanese security forces – at the site.

Several of those interviewed also showed Human Rights Watch 5.56mm cartridges they had collected. Protesters and activists shared images of live bullet shells on social media.

Violence also erupted near the Grand Serail (the seat of the PM), where members of the riot police and other units from the Internal Security Forces used tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and apparent live fire in the air to forcibly disperse protesters from Riad al-Solh square.

The events were caught on camera by TV stations broadcasting live from the protests. Clashes between security forces and groups of protesters throwing rocks and sticks continued until late at night with heavy use of gas canisters, rubber bullets, and water cannons.

In three cases Human Rights Watch documented, wounded protesters or their friends said that security personnel shot rubber bullets at them from close range, resulting in severe injuries that required hospitalization. Three protesters said they suffered minor injuries from rubber bullets that hit them in their legs, arms, or stomachs as they tried to flee.

Another three protesters described being pursued and beaten by baton-wielding policemen even though they were leaving the protest area and had not taken part in any violent act. Many experienced mild suffocation problems from the dense teargas. A female activist helping to organize the protests said that a police officer beat her in the head.

According to the Lebanese Red Cross, 75 protesters were injured on August 22, 15 of whom were hospitalized for their wounds. The Internal Security Forces said that 35 policemen were also injured that night. The state prosecutor told the newspaper Al-Joumhouria that investigations showed “that no one was wounded with live bullets and the injuries that occurred at the first day of protests [August 22] were due to the use of rubber bullets.”

The Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, which monitors freedom of the press, documented nine cases of violent attacks against journalists on August 22 and 23, identifying most of the attackers as security personnel. Nada Andraos, a journalist from LBC TV, a local station, told Human Rights Watch that ISF members hit her and her photographer with a stick and sprayed them with a water hose. Beating journalists covering a protest is unlawful and an indefensible attack on press freedom, Human Rights Watch said.

“Policing demonstrations can be challenging, but what happened on Saturday was clearly an unjustified excessive use of force,” Houry said. “The police seemed more interested in teaching protesters a lesson than in maintaining public order.”

On August 23, new protests took place in downtown Beirut, with many protesters calling for the resignation of the government and accountability for the violence against the protesters. Groups of protesters threw rocks at the police and tried to forcibly remove barricades set up by the security forces. Security forces responded with teargas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Some protesters also set fire to trashcans, and destroyed public property such as traffic lights and parking meters.

The ISF reported that 99 people were wounded, including protesters and security officers, and that 32 people were detained. Clashes between protesters and security forces erupted again on August 25.

In policing demonstrations, security forces, including the military, should abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said. The principles call upon law enforcement officials to apply nonviolent means before resorting to force, to limit the use of force in proportion to the seriousness of the offense, and to use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life.

The Internal Security Forces adopted a code of conduct in 2011 that stipulates that “Police members will not resort to the use of force unless it is necessary, proportionate and after exhausting all possible non-violent means, within the minimum extent needed to accomplish the mission.”

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouq announced on twitter on August 23 that everyone who gave orders to shoot, and every police officer who shot at protesters will be held accountable. The state prosecutor told local media on August 26 that investigations are ongoing and surveillance cameras are being used to identify the troublemakers who started riots. The prosecutor said that members of the security forces were also questioned.

Impunity for violence by security forces is a recurring problem in Lebanon. Investigations into previous incidents of excessive, and in some cases lethal, violence against protesters, if initiated, have not been concluded. All public information available indicates that Lebanon never investigated incidents in which security forces, including the army, used force against protesters, such as the violent dispersal of Palestinian protesters in Northern Lebanon on June 29, 2007, which left two Palestinians dead and at least 28 injured; and the violent dispersal of protesters in Hay al-Sellom, a poor neighborhood in Beirut, on May 27, 2004, which killed five protesters and wounded dozens.

“It’s long past the time for Lebanon to get serious about holding its security forces accountable,” Houry said. “The authorities need to deliver on their promises of effective investigations and accountability, or the laws that are supposed to protect Lebanese from abuses and ensure respect for basic rights will have no deterrent effect.”

Accounts From Witnesses, August 22

Elias, protester:
Elias said that he started running away from Riad al-Solh square towards a shopping area called the Beirut Souks when ISF units fired tear gas canisters to disperse protesters in front of the Grand Serail. He said that they appeared to be directly targeting protesters with the canisters.

“But I didn’t just want to run away,” he said. “I turned back and gave the peace sign to the police officers and started to march slowly toward the front lines with my hands over my head indicating for them not to shoot. Then, I saw someone get hit and I rushed over to them. Then the security forces fired an object directly at me – at my head.” He does not know what hit him. He was rushed to the hospital where he received about a dozen stitches.

Abdullah, protester:
Abdullah said he was watching TV on the evening of August 22 when he decided to join the protest to support his fellow countrymen and voice his frustration with the lack of adequate public services and high unemployment rates. He arrived at the Azarieh building, which leads down toward Riad al-Solh square.

“Within 10 minutes of arriving to the area, I realized how out of control things had gotten,” he said. “I saw a police officer crouch behind a car aiming at protesters. Before I knew it, I heard a loud sound. I was hit and fell down. I don’t know what he fired at me but it left a gaping hole in my arm. Others rushed to my side and I was transported to Rizk Hospital for surgery.”

He said his injuries have kept him from riding the moped he uses for his job as a deliveryman. He fears that he will be fired. “The hospital staff said that the Health Ministry will cover our hospital costs, but who will compensate me to cover my living expenses while I am out of work?”

Ahmad, protester:
Ahmad said that policemen were shooting riot guns and rubber bullets from close range, directly toward him and other protesters. The police charged and started firing teargas canisters and beating him and the others with sticks in Beirut Souks, he said.

“I saw a woman in the middle of the road who was suffocating from the teargas bombs,” he said. “I yelled out don’t shoot and tried to run to her to help her – instead I got shot in my stomach. He said that the Lebanese Red Cross immediately took him to the emergency room at Hotel Dieu. “The doctors cut me open from my chest to his stomach, making sure that my vital organs had not been perforated before they sewed me up,” he said

Other protesters:
A protester who asked not to be named said that his friend was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet at close range and was rushed to Hotel Dieu hospital. The friend who was injured provided Human Rights Watch with multiple pictures of his leg wounds and the rubber bullet that was extracted from his leg at the hospital, but asked not to have the photos or his name made public because he did not want his family to know that he had been participating in protests.

Another male protester who preferred not to be named said that as he ran away from Riad al-Solh square toward Nejmeh square, he saw an ISF officer using a stick to beat a woman who appeared to be fleeing the chaos and had not been attacking anyone. He said he saw the police unit guarding parliament beating other protesters with sticks and firing bullets into the air.

Another protester said that he and some of the organizers tried to form a buffer zone between the security personnel and protesters to calm things down while security forces started to fire rounds of live ammunition into the air.

He said that he and his friends pleaded with the officers to stop using live ammunition and that in response an officer hit him in his back with the butt of his rifle.

(Beirut) – Lebanese authorities should take immediate measures to ensure that there is no repeat of violence against protestors in downtown Beirut and that perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable, Human Rights Watch said…

The page on State of Lebanon Not found: Error 404?

15 families control 40% of Lebanon GNP

Après un weekend riche en évènements de tout genre, le temps est venu de faire un bilan et il n’est guère brillant de tous les côtés, manifestants, forces de l’ordre ou autorités politiques même.

Le Mouvement You Stink, qui a certes réussi à mobiliser et réconcilier le peuple libanais, uni en dépit des fractures politiques – chose qu’on n’a pas vu depuis des années – arrive aujourd’hui face à une impasse et donc un échec. (Too early to declare defeat by reporters)

Certes, le gouvernement a reculé. Certes les autorités ont, bon gré, mal gré, fini par écouter la société civile et ont dû annuler l’appel d’offre pour la passation du marché des ramassages des ordures, mais les questions de fond demeurent.

En dépit d’un échec dans les propositions alternative, ce mouvement a fini par symboliser un raz-le-bol contre un état accusé de tous les mots et cela à raison, face au clientélisme, à la corruption, face à sa paralysie, mais en même temps, ce mouvement manque à proposer des solutions et donc un programme ou une alternative sérieuse à opposer à ces systèmes et à cette paralysie, si ce n’est que la démission du Gouvernement ou du Parlement. (Every thing in due time, as the protesters gather wind and discussions ensue)

Ce sont ces tensions sociales qu’il s’agit d’évacuer et non de trouver des expédients parce qu’il faut faire face aux causes et non aux symptômes qui révèlent un profond mal-être au sein de notre société et cela pour diverses raisons.

Il n’est en fin de compte que la continuité des mouvements entamés par les événements de 2005, mais déjà marqués par l’échec à changer la société.

Au lieu d’avoir changer l’ensemble de la classe politique, d’avoir réformé en profondeur la société libanaise et d’avoir permis une progression sociale et économique allant de paire avec la stabilité politique et sécuritaire, la révolution des Cèdres n’a fait en fin de compte que remplacer la tutelle syrienne par la tutelle de leurs anciens hommes de main devenus subitement indépendants et détournant le système à leur profit.

La rébellion de 2005 n’a pas été une révolution parce qu’on n’a pas achevé sa finalité de révolution en provoquant un changement de système politique et/ou de personnes politiques.

Aujourd’hui Taymour succède à Walid, comme Saad à Rafic, Samy à Amine et même Gébran à Michel, ceux-la même qui nous avaient dit de rentrer chez nous et qu’ils s’occuperaient désormais déjà de tout.

S’il convenait aujourd’hui de faire un bilan de leurs actes, il serait déjà médiocre. Et s’ils reculent aujourd’hui, n’en soyons pas dupe, il ne s’agit que d’un retrait tactique face à notre détermination et cela pour mieux reprendre ensuite la main.

Incapable de faire face aux menaces à nos portes, faut-il rappeler que des milices étrangères impliquées dans la guerre civile syrienne occupent également plus de 400 km^2 de nos territoires du côté d’Arsal, l’Etat se révèle également inapte à faire face aux mafias économiques qui s’imposent à elle, comme en témoignent les prix importants proposés par ces compagnies pour simplement ramasser nos ordures ménagères

Il ne s’agit pas de déchets ultimes, industriels ou hospitaliers plus difficiles à transporter et à traiter – et les contrats proposés ne concernent même pas le devenir après ramassage de ces déchets. N’évoquons pas les mafias des moteurs, les mafias des citernes d’eau et celles plus subtiles qui nous subtilisent notre pouvoir d’achat, à savoir celles des agences exclusives, véritables monopoles.

15 familles contrôlent 40% de notre PIB.

Ce sont ces mafias qui ont intérêt à conserver un état faible et un système politique non représentatif du peuple.

Ce sont ces mafias qu’il faudrait renverser et non les proxies politiques qui n’en sont que les hommes de main au final.

L’exaspération face à l’accumulation des ordures n’est qu’une exaspération « apparente ».

De nombreuses autres raisons sont présentes pour symboliser le dégoût du Libanais face à ce système.

Ne nous méprenez pas:

Nous sommes de tout cœur avec les manifestants et la société civile. L’usage de la violence contre la volonté populaire est inacceptable et tout responsable devrait démissionner le cas échéant.

Peut-être, le gouvernement démontre sa non-responsabilité et son manque de pouvoir en ne le faisant pas.

Peut-être est-ce là le résultat des alternatives qui manquent et cela devrait amener justement à penser aux alternatives.

Le gouvernement ne peut démissionner et cela pour plusieurs raisons. Le momentum à réclamer sa démission n’est peut-être pas le bon et cette demande est plus proche des concepts nihilistes et anarchiques en raison de l’absence de solutions proposées que du concept d’un état qu’on doit construire:

Le gouvernement ne peut pas démissionner parce qu’il ne s’agit en fin de compte que de la dernière autorité qui soit encore légitime au Liban.

Le parlement n’est plus légitime depuis l’expiration de son mandat il y a de cela 2 ans: élire un nouveau président de la république par un parlement illégitime serait une autre erreur. (But this government was set by this illegal Parliament)

Nous pouvons toujours rêver mais la société civile devrait réclamer la solution la plus logique qui serait que le gouvernement, héritier des prérogatives présidentielles comme stipulé dans la constitution libanaise, fort d’un consensus d’une classe politique dépassée par les évènements et ayant peur de poursuivre la monopolisation du pouvoir en raison de la crainte d’une révolution qui lui couperait la tête, convoque les électeurs libanais afin d’élire une nouvelle chambre des députés qui élirait à ce moment-là, un nouveau président de la république.

Et cela changera probablement les règles du jeu, à leur détriment. La pression populaire doit se maintenir jusqu’à l’évocation et la mise en place de cette solution.

Le gouvernement doit répondre aux aspirations du peuple et non aux aspirations des partis politiques ou des mafias.

La leçon qui s’impose aux manifestants devrait aussi s’imposer aux gouvernants déjà sur le même dossier des ordures:

Si les autorités libanaises avaient été intelligentes, elles auraient, dès le départ, pensé à comment valoriser les déchets au lieu de juste les ramasser et auraient été voir ailleurs comme en Suède les méthodes de valorisation des ordures.  (But these half dozen of militia and mafia leaders are too old, senile and dysfunctional to keep up with changes)

Au lieu de cela, simplement ramasser pour un coût aussi élevé, et avoir après les mafias de l’électricité et de l’eau, la régionalisation des mafias des ordures est une grossière erreur contre laquelle, la société civile est en droit de se soulever.

Mais toujours est-il qu’il ne s’agit que d’une problématique à laquelle la population fait face parmi tant d’autres, à un système politique à changer, à un système étatique à réformer au profit des compétences et non du clientélisme, à des défis sécuritaires qui s’imposent à nos frontières avec la présence de Daech à 50 km de nos frontières, aux défis et aux changements des équilibres régionaux qui s’imposent à nous.

On ne peut pas corriger les maux qui nous rongent au cas par cas. (Why not?)

Il faut une solution générale et les tensions sociales et économiques véhiculées par le mouvement actuel le démontrent.

Tout doit être mis sur le tapis. Peut-être n’est ce effectivement pas le moment à provoquer le vide de l’exécutif mais toujours est-il que le peuple, lui, ne peut plus attendre aujourd’hui à ce que l’Etat prenne son rôle à coeur et qu’il devienne un état pour l’intérêt général et pour tous et non un état pour certains intérêts pas vraiment supérieurs.

François el Bacha

Le plaidoyer de Francois el Bacha pour que le Mouvement ‪#‎Youstink‬, vue comme une continuité des manifestations de 2005 ne se trompe pas de cible et qu’il pousse réformer le ‪#‎Liban‬ en profondeur en poursuivant son action.

La rébellion de 2005 n’a pas été une révolution parce qu’on n’a pas achevé sa finalité de révolution en provoquant un changement de système politique et/ou de personnes politiques.

Aujourd’hui Taymour succède à Walid, comme Saad à Rafic, Samy à Amine et même Gébran à Michel, ceux-la même qui nous avaient dit de rentrer chez nous et qu’ils s’occuperaient désormais déjà de tout. S’il convenait aujourd’hui de faire un bilan de leurs actes, il serait déjà médiocre. Et s’ils reculent aujourd’hui, n’en soyons pas dupe, il ne s’agit que d’un retrait tactique face à notre détermination et cela pour mieux reprendre ensuite la main.

Beyrouth, Liban – Après un weekend riche en évènements de tout genre, le temps est venu de faire un bilan et il n’est guère brillant de tous les cotés, manifestants,…|By Francois Bacha
Trash recycling centers?
Lebtivity's photo.

The best way to help Lebanon is to take action today! If you do not recycle yet, it’s time to start!
We as Lebtivity have prepared this list that would help you contact the recycling centers in Lebanon.

“recycle” and “re-share”!






January 2023

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