Lebanon: iaIGO Denounces the Cruel Treatment of Peaceful Demonstrators by Police

Lebanon: iaIGO Denounces the Cruel Treatment of Peaceful Demonstrators by Police 06 September 2015

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (iaIGO) strongly condemns the brutality by riot police officers against peaceful demonstrators and the media in Beirut, Lebanon which left at least 20 injured.

A group of peaceful demonstrators of the popular “You Stink” movement and other activists have been brutalized by Lebanon police officers who tried to disperse and stop the demonstration. The demonstrators who are protesting a garbage pileup in the capital city and political dysfunction had occupied the offices of Lebanon’s environment minister in downtown Beirut, demanding that he resigns.

Riot police officers who came to clear the protesters from the minister’s offices, grabbed, beat and shoved protesters.  They also fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at demonstrators and cut the communication cables of media personnel who were trying to capture live images of the scene.

iaIGO denounces the brutal reaction of Lebanese security forces against peaceful protesters and deems it a direct violation of their rights under international human rights laws. Article 11 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights and Article 21 of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights clearly states that no restrictions should be placed on people exercising their rights to peaceful assembly. Any infringement of these rights  does not only go against people achieving their primary goal of expressing their opinions, but equally testifies against the presence of the freedom to exercise their rights as defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Therefore, there is a positive obligation on the State to take reasonable steps to facilitate the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and to protect participants in peaceful demonstrations from disruption by state security forces or other people.

Lebanon is experiencing a wave of anti-government protests organized by the “You Stink” movement. The campaign started as a protest about the lack of garbage pickup in the capital Beirut earlier this month but later escalated into a protest against government corruption and mismanagement, including consistent water and power shortages in the country.Demonstrators have also called on the government to hold snap parliamentary elections, putting extra pressure on lawmakers who have failed to agree on a new election date, leaving the country without a president for more than a year. Meanwhile, the lawmakers have extended their own terms until 2017.

iaIGO urges Lebanese authorities to immediately investigate and hold accountable any security personnel involved in the cruel treatment of protesters. Lebanon should respect and recognize its obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the rights of its citizens and refrain from brutalizing peaceful demonstrators. iaIGO further urges the Lebanese government should also endeavor to resolve both environmental and political issues in the country so as to enable peaceful and sustainable developments for a democratic society.