Lebanon protesters storm government offices in Beirut

Security forces begin removing protesters who are occupying environment ministry over continuing rubbish crisis.

Activists had said they would 'occupy the ministry until [Minister Mohammad] Machnouk steps down' [AP]
Activists had said they would ‘occupy the ministry until [Minister Mohammad] Machnouk steps down’ 

Security forces have started removing about 30 protesters from Lebanon’s “You Stink!” movement who had stormed the Ministry of Environment in Beirut and begun a sit-in, refusing to move until the minister resigns.

The activists had said on Tuesday that they would “occupy the ministry until [Minister Mohammad] Machnouk steps down”.

The protesters lined themselves along the hallways of the ministry, sitting on the floor, chanting for the minister to step down and singing the national anthem.

Hundreds of other protesters later gathered outside the building on Tuesday, as riot police took up positions in surrounding streets.

Security forces have began clearing the protestors from inside the ministry, after they cordoned off the area and blocked access to journalists.

Pierre Hachache, a protestor inside, told Al Jazeera that the police had started beating the protestors and journalists who were inside the building.

“We were peaceful. We didn’t do anything,” Hachache said.

Lucien Bou Rjeilly, one of the campaign spokespersons, was beaten badly by the police and reportedly ended up with broken shoulders.

There were about 20 protesters inside the ministry’s compound and about 30 inside the ministry building itself.


The Red Cross came in earlier to deliver water to those taking part in the sit-in inside the ministry.

Protestors say they are not leaving the compound or the ministry.

According to one protester affiliated with the You Stink! campaign, there are more “surprises” to be expected.

Lebanon has faced increasing protests over the past few weeks over the ongoing rubbish standoff, which has seen tonnes of rubbish piled up on the streets for over a month, as the government struggles to find a solution to the problem.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets over the rubbish crisis, as well as what they call the government’s failure to provide basic services such as electricity and water, and ongoing political corruption.

Protests turned violent two weeks ago after security forces opened fire and beat protesters, as well as using tear gas and water cannons against them in central Beirut.

One protester is still in intensive care, and several hundred others were injured. Dozens more were arrested.

Demands made by the protesters on Tuesday also include holding the minister of interior accountable for the use of force by security forces against protesters in previous demonstrations, and decentralising waste management to local municipalities.

On Monday, Machnouk resigned from the parliamentary crisis cell created to deal with the waste management issue, but refused to step down from his position, stating the responsibility for solving the issue was not just his and it was not his time to resign from the government.







Source: Al Jazeera

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