Friday, June 16, 2017

Are we back to the Syrian occupation era?

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Whether we agree with the protesters or not, is that a way to treat young men and women voicing their refusal of a third parliament’s term extension? What have they done to deserve to be so savagely beaten? Throw a few eggs and tomatoes at some MP’s car?

I've always disagreed with this kind of action, but the brutal repression of an otherwise peaceful protest is not acceptable. The right to protest is embedded in the Lebanese Constitution, not the right to extend three times the parliament’s term! If someone did something illegal, it’s definitely not the protesters, but the political establishment that keeps bending our fragile democracy. They’ll keep bending it until it’ll eventually break.

What happened this afternoon next to the Parliament building is no different from what used to happen during the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Is this how the country is going to be ruled from now on? Is this how anyone that disagrees with the political establishment is going to be treated? Is this the democracy we’ve been promised?

Asked why she was protesting, a young woman, barely holding back her tears, told a TV reporter: "If one day my children ask me if I did anything for the country, I'll be able to tell them I tried".

It's the third time the Lebanese parliament extends its own term in violation with every democratic principle written in the Constitution. The last elections happened in 2009. MPs were elected for 4 years. They've been sitting there for 8. After the new 11-month extension is over, there's no guarantee they won't go at it again under one pretext or another.

After videos of the soldiers brutality went viral, the ministry of Defense launched an investigation and an unnamed source within the Lebanese Army allegedly told Lebanon Debate that the soldiers seen beating protesters are part of a unit that doesn't report to Army command but to the Parliament police.

Isn't it the same unit that opened fire at peaceful protesters during the 2015 garbage crisis?

The army is the only institution the Lebanese still trust to protect them. If this trust goes away, there will be nothing left to hold the country together.

As former Army commander and current Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Aoun needs to put an end to this militia-like behavior. It has no place in a respected and beloved institution that works tirelessly and heroically to protect Lebanon from the likes of Daech and Jabhat al-Nosra.

© Claude El Khal, 2017