Thursday, August 20, 2015

Garbage Republic

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While garbage is piling up everywhere, turning Lebanon into an open dumpster with no viable solution in sight, protesters, once again, took to the streets. In Downtown Beirut, they clashed with police (videos below). Protesters and police officers were wounded. Activists were arrested then freed.

“The protesters threw objects at the police, and the police fired back with water cannons. The demonstrators then used a metal barricade to hook onto a barbed wire barrier to try to pull it down”, The Daily Star reports. “Television footage showed medics removing a protester on a stretcher after police used force to disperse the demonstration.”

Earlier, environment Minister announced during a news conference that he would need until next Tuesday to award waste management contracts, then lashed out at activists blaming them for exacerbating the crisis.

After a pitiful attempt at “hiding” the problem (see all photos here), the government, plagued with internal bickering and blocked by the institutionalized corruption of the Lebanese political apparatus, seems incapable of resolving the crisis.

Even if people’s anger is growing, it is somewhat contained by its sectarian divide fueled by political parties.

Despite that, more and more Lebanese are ready to “do something” but the lack of a credible “indignados” movement has kept people at home, sharing their anger on Facebook and Twitter…

Yesterday’s protest was called by the Tol3et Re7etkom ("You Stink") movement. Very popular on social media, the movement has failed to gather more than a hundred protesters. Its rash actions and multiple and sometimes contradicting demands have pushed away many supporters.

After the last demonstration, that gathered several thousand people, I wrote on Facebook: “I was in Martyr Square today because I can’t possibly say what I say, write what I write and not be there. But I have to confess I wasn’t convinced by everything I heard. Many things were said and many things were shouted. I had the feeling I was in the middle of a fattoush of slogans, some contradicting others. (…) True change is like walking. Before everything, one needs a clear and reachable destination. Then he can start moving forward, one step after the other, until this destination is reached. Everything else would be like dancing on a techno beat: a lot of body movements and even more sweat, without really getting anywhere.”

The garbage problem is only the tip of the iceberg. Lebanon is still facing water and electricity shortages, parliamentary elections were canceled twice, the country has been without a President for over a year, the economy is at standstill, unemployment and poverty are spreading, the Syrian refugee crisis is getting worse, and still politicians are fighting for bigger pieces of the very lucrative business that our rotting republic has become.

If we hope to change anything, we need to fight Lebanon’s two main plagues: corruption and sectarianism. No angry slogans or violent protests will be able to achieve that. What is needed is an organized “indignados” movement, with a clear vision and a detailed program to implement it, along with a well-thought-out and realistic action plan.

Failing to do that, we can rant and scream as long as we want, nothing will ever change.

© Claude El Khal

Posted by ‎طلعت ريحتكم‎ on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Footage of today's protest - Part 1
Footage showing activists facing police brutality. We are going back this Saturday at 6pm at Riad El Solh. by Ali Hamouch
Posted by ‎طلعت ريحتكم‎ on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Police beating protesters
PLEASE SHARE Police beating protesters. We are going back this Saturday at 6pm at Riad El Solh!
Posted by ‎طلعت ريحتكم‎ on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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