A cry from the heart by a hopeful young Lebanese trainee lawyer
“What a weary time those years were – to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.” (Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye)
An inability that pushed the young generation to make a change
In fact, Beirut protests are defined by the loss of the public’s confidence in the government’s ability to serve and provide for them. Unfortunately, it took Lebanese citizens a decade to start breaking free from the toxic effects of the politicians they elect at every term.
An accumulation of factors led to massive protests wherein it is clear that the government had lost its credibility in the eyes of the youth, who have seen their parents suffer for years from social and economic crises caused by a corrupt system and the politicians’ abuse of public power for personal gain.
The government’s questionable economic and tax policies fueled the population’s anger which erupted when, notably the government was unable to handle massive forest fires that started on the 15th of October all around the country due to neglect in the maintenance of the country’s firefighting planes, in addition to the proposed 0.20$ tax issued by the Government on the 17th of October on daily calls via Whats’app and other messaging apps used as an alternative to the high cost of local telecommunication means.
All of these and other combined factors led the people to flood the streets from the 17th of October until this date, in ongoing protests against the corrupt government and demanding major reforms on all political, economic, judicial and social levels.
A month of protests led to amazing results.
An inefficient system…
The following criticisms have been made against the current system: cronyism, nepotism, lack of services, high taxes, poor infrastructure, and corruption on many levels.
Despite the fact that Lebanon was among the first to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (the “UDHR”) for which it participated in the drafting, the majority of the Lebanese citizens were and still are living in poverty, deprived from their basic human rights including but not limited to: free education and healthcare, access to 24/7 electricity, clean water and environment. All of these factors lead the youth to leave their country.
In 2015, almost 850 million tones of garbage have been stored on the coast, causing unbearable smell and chronic diseases leading indirectly to the death of a high number of people to date.
… leading to a protest like no other…
“In the name of God, we Muslims and Christians, pledge that united we shall remain to the end of time to better defend our Lebanon” (Gebran Tueini, Lebanese politician and journalist, assassinated on the 12th of December 2005).
In accordance with the right to freedom of expression and the right of peaceful demonstration as provided for in articles 19 and 20 of the UDHR, the Lebanese people for the first time, regardless of their confessions, religions and political affiliations that divided them for years, come united. They decided to fill the streets of the country’s major cities, demanding the resignation of the head of the government at the time, Prime Minister Saad El Hariri (who has resigned further to the people’s requests) and insisting on the replacement of the said government with an independent downsized technocratic government.
“All of them means all of them” a slogan leading the demonstrations that reflects the people’s blame of all political leaders and corrupt parties. People lived in the streets; they expressed their feelings and their demands like no other time. Many of the army forces sent to control the movements, obliged to obey orders against the citizens who were reclaiming the same basic needs as theirs, broke their defenses and showed their compassion.
What highlighted the demonstration the most was the peacefulness of the protest, to the extent where a DJ booth was placed in the major cities so all Lebanese people can party together on the weekend and not miss their routine while forcing the government to resign.
… for a better Lebanon!
A month of demonstrations led to notably the following results: the government has resigned, 91 taxes were abolished, the phone bills are payable now in Lebanese Lira, many corruption files are now being investigated, the Lebanese citizens are now united like no other time, students are in the streets writing their country’s history rather than studying it, freedom of expression is back, and the media became effectively the 4th power.
And the best is yet to come…
But not yet best; on the 12th of November, in an hour televised address, the President signaled that the government should be a “techno-political” one rather than technocratic, that protesters should go home, and “if there is no decent people in the state, let them emigrate, they will not reach the power”.
A shocking statement to the citizens who has been flooding the streets for a month in order to change the status-quo they have been living for years.
A floored tension that expanded the number of protesters in the streets, asking the President this time to emigrate and resign if he ever wants to, and assuring him that they will not leave their country…
“Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral (…)” (Gebran Khalil Gebran). However this time, the nation has raised THE VOICE asking for basic rights, and will not leave the streets unless provided. This time our nation will make you feel proud, dear Gebran.
14 November 2019