Lebanon crisis: Arrests, rival protests and hunger strikes

Lebanon crisis: Arrests, rival protests and hunger strikes
Analysis: Triggered by political deadlock, collapsing basic services including waste collection, and frustration among the populace over the dysfunction and corruption of the political class, Lebanon's crisis drags on.
2 min read
04 September, 2015
Following anti-government street protests demanding a solution to the ongoing refuse crisis, Michel Aoun has called on his supporters to stage a rival protest in Beirut today.

The demands of Aoun's Christian Free Patriotic Movement diverge from those of the "You Stink" protest movement. They revolve around elections and Christian political representation in top posts, specifically representation of the FPM - which considers itself the largest Christian faction in the country.

There have been tensions and between You Stink activists and the FPM.

You Stink organisers accuse the FPM of hypocrisy for being part of the government and the political class, while the FPM has accused the anti-government protesters of seeking chaos.
There have been tensions and between You Stink activists and the FPM

Hunger strike

On Thursday, several Lebanese activists aligned with the You Stink campaign launched an open-ended hunger strike, demanding the resignation of the environment minister at the centre of the waste crisis.

The activists set up tents outside the Environment Ministry in downtown Beirut. Several supporters joined the 11 hunger strikers on Thursday evening.

The hunger strike comes two days after protesters walked into the ministry and staged a sit-in. They were eventually evicted by force.

"Why the Lebanese protesters should be cautious" - read Karim Barakat's commentary here 

The You Stink protest movement began with rallies against the garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut, and garnered much support among many Lebanese citizens angered by the government's failure to find a solution after Beirut's main landfill was closed in July.

But protests have now grown beyond the refuse issue to target the government and entire political class.

The You Stink organisers are calling for daily small-scale protests across Lebanese regions, with a major rally planned for September 9.

Park-meter protest

Dozens of protesters, meanwhile, held a rally on Beirut's waterfront to denounce the installation of new parking meters along the coast, saying it denied poor residents free access to public space.

Two of the protesters were arrested by plain-clothes security agents at gunpoint, prompting a sit-in outside the interior ministry demanding their release.

Lebanon's official news agency later said authorities ordered the release of the activists.