New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is deeply concerned about the anti-government protests that broke out in Lebanon with protesters condemning government corruption and demanding for government’s resignation. The center support any pro democracy steps in Lebanon but at the same time, it warns that any change in the political system could result in sectarian war. The center urge the US administration to ensure that Lebanese government is taking real steps to improve living conditions of the Lebanese people.
The Lebanese protests started on 17th Oct when the government failed to tackle the looming economic dilemma, mostly the time it announced new taxes on gasoline, and tobacco, and on the messaging application WhatsApp. The Lebanese peaceful protesters set up barricades and blocked key roads in Beirut and all over the country decrying what they called the government’s corruption and economic mismanagement and calling for its resignation.
During the ongoing protests, Lebanon’s security forces used unnecessary force against the protesters. They used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, they kicked and beat them with iron batons as well as verbally assaulting them. As reported, some peaceful protesters were also arrested for only participating in the protests. In this respect, under United Nations basic principles, law enforcement officials may only use force “when strictly necessary” in a proportional manner with exercising restraint.
As reported, Officers from the Lebanese army used excessive and unnecessary force to disperse protesters who blocked public roads. However, international human rights bodies legitimize the right of peaceful protesters to protest in urban spaces. In this regard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association has stated that “the free flow of traffic should not automatically take precedence over freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Accordingly, New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs(NYCFPA) stated that the Lebanese authorities must act properly and in a lawful manner to ensure the protection of peaceful protesters, respect their right to freedom of assembly without exposing to violence or harassment.
NYCFPA urges the US government to support these peaceful protests and the Lebanese ability to exercise their right to freedom of assembly without fear of attack from political parties or harassment from military forces.
“The US government must intervene urgently and work with all relevant parties to spare Lebanon any humanitarian crisis and civil wars or unrest which could only increase tensions, provoke hostility and create danger in the entire region,” said NYCFPA.