Today, Saturday, the Lebanese people are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the start of popular anti-authority demonstrations and demanding its departure, through a series of central movements and demonstrations that start from central Beirut to the site of the horrific port explosion, at a time when the country is grappling with its worst economic and political crises.
Preparations continue in Martyrs Square (downtown Beirut) for the first anniversary celebration, as hundreds of activists gathered, waving Lebanese flags and revolutionary slogans such as: “Revolution” and “The people want to overthrow the regime.”
In Saida (southern Lebanon), groups of the Harak are preparing for activities as part of a car rally that roams the streets and neighborhoods, all the way to the city square.
Buses carrying a number of activists from the movement will depart from Sidon to take part in the central movement in downtown Beirut to commemorate the memory.
In the northern capital, Tripoli, revolutionary groups organized a foot march of hundreds, and they roamed the city’s streets to its central square.
Activists executed a human mural in the shape of the Lebanese flag, amidst demand and revolutionary chants that dealt with the difficult economic conditions looming over the country.
In the Lebanese Bekaa Valley (center), hundreds of activists are preparing to set out from the town of Taalabaya in the Bekaa, in order to participate in the official celebration in downtown Beirut.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said today, Saturday, that he is still ready to work with the political parties to achieve the people’s reform demands.
He added – in a second tweet on his official account on Twitter – that “it is not too late and my hand is still extended to work together to achieve the reform demands, as no reform is possible outside the institutions.”
On October 17, 2019, the government’s attempt to impose financial fees on communications via the WhatsApp service was the spark that triggered the first moves, and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut, the south, the north and the Bekaa in unprecedented protest demonstrations that crossed sectarian and party affiliations.
In the protests – which lasted for months – roads were closed, and the protesters held the ruling political class responsible for the deterioration of living conditions, in light of the worst economic crisis in the history of Lebanon, which forced Saad Hariri to submit the resignation of his government.
Since that date, Lebanon has witnessed successive crises from an accelerating economic collapse that exacerbated poverty rates, to tight banking restrictions on depositors’ funds, the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, and finally the horrific explosion of the Beirut port, which claimed more than 200 deaths and thousands of injuries, and caused severe damage to a number of neighborhoods in the capital and activity Economic.
Earlier Saturday, Amnesty International (Amnesti) called on the Lebanese authorities to conduct “transparent investigations into the repression of demonstrators since the start of the revolution.”
aThe fall of the political class
Many of the demonstrators insist on their demands to bring down the corrupt political class, including Melissa (42 years old), one of the women who kept demonstrating in downtown Beirut, where she confirmed that she has not lost hope yet because the movement is still in the street.
She added, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, that we will take the initiative and stand together against the corrupt and fallen government.
In a tweet, researcher and university professor Jamil Moawad emphasized that the lack of political programs and leadership made the path and progress somewhat difficult and difficult.
However, the academic and former minister, Tariq Mitri, said in a tweet that the strength of the popular movement is in its continuation, in overcoming disappointments, and in stimulating the energies that opened within a year.
He added that it cannot be measured by what has been achieved in terms of political change, nor by its ability to generate new political elites, but rather by promises that continue to carry, amid all the pain, fatigue, feeling helpless and the desire to abstain and flee.
The departure of the political class constituted the demand of the demonstrators since the start of their movements a year ago, and under the pressure of the street, a new government was formed headed by Hassan Diab, with the support of Hezbollah and its allies, who named specialized ministers from outside the political class.
The momentum of popular movements decreased with the formation of the government, which approved an economic rescue paper, on the basis of which negotiations began with the International Monetary Fund, but they did not last long, as they quickly collided with the interventions of influential political forces, and the outbreak of the new Corona virus limited their ability to work.
The explosion at the Beirut port, which the authorities attributed, led to the storage of huge quantities of ammonium nitrate, and it became clear that officials at several levels were aware of its existence and its danger. To fuel the anger of the street again, then mass demonstrations took place, interspersed with riots and deliberately targeting demonstrators, according to what was documented by several human rights organizations, and Diab submitted his resignation on the tenth of last August.
Last month, the political forces failed to translate a pledge they made to French President Emmanuel Macron to form a government headed by Mustafa Adib within a two-week period, according to a French roadmap that provided for the formation of a government with a “specific mission” that would undertake urgent reforms to obtain the support of the international community.
The President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, postponed the binding parliamentary consultations to name a prime minister until next week, at a time when Hariri, who led intensive contacts to name him during this week, seems to have a majority that enables him to assume the task of forming the government, in a move that angered protesters opposed to the authority and some political forces.