Amnesty International accuses Lebanese security forces of using excessive force against peaceful protestors

Amnesty International accuses Lebanese security forces of using excessive force against peaceful protestors
Lebanon's protests have been predominantly peaceful, but Amnestly accuses security forces of using excess force against them. At least 64 people were admitted for tear gas inhalation, hospital officials announced.
2 min read
19 October, 2019
Lebanon's protests erupted on Thursday against government ineptness and corruption. [Getty]
Lebanon’s security forces used excessive force to disperse an overwhelmingly peaceful protest in downtown Beirut, Amnesty International said on Saturday. The rights group said that security forces were firing huge amounts of tear gas into crowds, and chasing protesters down streets and alleys at gunpoint and beating them.

Protesters gathered in multiple towns and cities across Lebanon on the evening of October 17 as public anger boiled over following years of economic mismanagement and widespread corruption. The final straw was the announcement of ludicrous tax measures on phone messaging platforms.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave a speech on October 18, following which, Amnesty reports, security forces used “excess force to disperse the overwhelmingly peaceful protests and by 11.30pm, they had cleared the square of all protesters.”

Read more: Hariri government faces resignation calls as Lebanon protests escalate

“We call on the Lebanese authorities to respect the right of protesters to freedom of peaceful assembly and investigate the excessive use of tear gas as well as the beatings and harassment at gunpoint of protesters that took place last night. Promises by government officials to address protesters’ grievances ring terribly hollow and deceitful when security forces are given free rein to prevent the Lebanese people from voicing their anger in what was until then a largely peaceful manner,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

Amnesty reported multiple instances of the use of excessive force against protestors. The press release claims that Amnesty International’s staff were present to witness some of the tear gas and rubber bullets used, and interviewed 21 individuals, including a human rights lawyer.  

At least 64 people had been admitted due to tear gas inhalation, hospital officials announced.

“With so many people demonstrating in the streets across the country, and more protests expected in the coming days, the priority of the authorities must be to reduce tensions and allow all who wish to peacefully express to do so safely and without fear of reprisal,” said Lynn Maalouf.

“The authorities must also signal their commitment to respecting peaceful protest by immediately and effectively investigating all report arbitrary and abusive force against protesters and allegations of ill-treatment of those arrested.”

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