Lebanon, Beirut, Red Cross, Middle East

Lebanon, Beirut

Nearly 500 protesters injured over violent weekend in Lebanon as riot police and army called in

Security forces accused of ‘brutal crackdown’ on demonstrations in capital

20.1.2020

Nearly 500 protesters injured over violent weekend in Lebanon as riot police and army called in

Security forces accused of ‘brutal crackdown’ on demonstrations in capital

Lebanon rocked by nationwide protests 1/16 Protestors burn buildings in downtown Beirut The protests in Lebanon began as a spontaneous burst of anger over new taxes. On October 17, mostly young men came on to the streets in the capital Beirut and across the country. They clashed with police and lit fires. Richard Hall / The Independent 2/16 A large fire is constructed near Lebanon's parliament building The new taxes included a levy on the messaging service WhatsApp. In a country where people were already struggling, it was the final nail in the coffin. Richard Hall / The Independent 3/16 Protesters fight running battles with police Protesters continued to clash with police into the second night. Downtown Beirut became a battleground as volleys of tear gas rained down on demonstrators. Richard Hall / The Independent 4/16 The joker makes an appearance By the third day, the mood changed. The violence of the first two nights ebbed and numbers swelled. People came out by their thousands across the country. Richard Hall / The Independent 5/16 Protesters occupy an abandoned theatre in downtown Beirut The protesters took control of the streets. They also reclaimed public space that had been off limits to them for years. This image was taken from a grand theatre in downtown Beirut that had been shuttered since the civil war. Richard Hall / The Independent 6/16 Protesters look down from an abandoned building Here, two protesters look towards downtown from the top of a building nicknamed"the egg" for its dome-like structure. It was part of a complex that was under construction when war broke out in 1975, and it has remained empty and off-limits ever since. Richard Hall / The Independent 7/16 A protester faces off with a police officer Women have played a key role in these protests. They have been on the frontline of demonstrations and sit-ins — which had a marked effect reducing violence. For the first week, police didn't know how to deal with them. In this picture, a woman police officer tries to negotiate with a protester to remove a road block. She was part of a team of women police officers sent out on this day. Richard Hall / The Independent 8/16 A group of women resists police attempts to remove their sit-in This image was taken during a police attempt to remove people from blocking a road. Again, the presence of woman at the front of the sit-in led to the police abandoning the attempt. Richard Hall / The Independent 9/16 A woman chants at a roadblock protest on Beirut's ring road Protesters said the road blocks were vital in keeping up pressure on the government. Without them, they would be ignored. Richard Hall / The Independent A living room is set up on one of Beirut's busiest roads Some of the roadblocks were more relaxed than others. Richard Hall / The Independent 11/16 Tens of thousands pack Tripoli's Nour Square The protests may have started in Beirut, but they have sprung up around the country. This photograph was taken in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city. Protests there have outsized those in the capital Beirut. The city has been called the"bride of the revolution." Richard Hall / The Independent 12/16 The crowd looks up as a singer performs for protesters in Tripoli's Nour Square The scenes in Tripoli are even more remarkable given its recent history. For years it has been plagued by extremism and violence. These mass displays of unity in the city's main square every night have done a lot to counter other Lebanese citizens' perception of Tripoli. Richard Hall / The Independent 13/16 Young men take photographs of protests in Tripoli's Nour Square Tripoli is also one of Lebanon's poorest cities. The protests here have been fuelled by desperation of poor people struggling to get by. Richard Hall / The Independent 14/16 Police protect protesters from Hezbollah supporters But the protests have not been without their opponents. As demonstrations entered their second week, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement began to show anger at protesters for their demand that all Lebanon's political leaders stand down. In this image, police stand between protesters and a group of Hezbollah supporters in downtown Beirut. Clashes broke out when they left. Richard Hall / The Independent 15/16 A group of Hezbollah and Amal supporters attacks peaceful protesters in Beirut The worst violence of the protests came towards the end of the second week. Several hundred supporters of Hezbollah and its political ally Amal attacked protesters who were blocking the main ring road in Beirut. Afterwards, they stormed into downtown and destroyed a protest encampment. Richard Hall / The Independent 16/16 Protesters pile tent poles in downtown Beirut after they were destroyed by Hezbollah and Amal supporters But the protesters came back to the main square, made a mountain from the poles of destroyed tents and placed a flag in it. The same day, Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri resigned, given protesters their first major victory. Richard Hall / The Independent 1/16 Protestors burn buildings in downtown Beirut The protests in Lebanon began as a spontaneous burst of anger over new taxes. On October 17, mostly young men came on to the streets in the capital Beirut and across the country. They clashed with police and lit fires. Richard Hall / The Independent 2/16 A large fire is constructed near Lebanon's parliament building The new taxes included a levy on the messaging service WhatsApp. In a country where people were already struggling, it was the final nail in the coffin. Richard Hall / The Independent 3/16 Protesters fight running battles with police Protesters continued to clash with police into the second night. Downtown Beirut became a battleground as volleys of tear gas rained down on demonstrators. Richard Hall / The Independent 4/16 The joker makes an appearance By the third day, the mood changed. The violence of the first two nights ebbed and numbers swelled. People came out by their thousands across the country. Richard Hall / The Independent 5/16 Protesters occupy an abandoned theatre in downtown Beirut The protesters took control of the streets. They also reclaimed public space that had been off limits to them for years. This image was taken from a grand theatre in downtown Beirut that had been shuttered since the civil war. Richard Hall / The Independent 6/16 Protesters look down from an abandoned building Here, two protesters look towards downtown from the top of a building nicknamed"the egg" for its dome-like structure. It was part of a complex that was under construction when war broke out in 1975, and it has remained empty and off-limits ever since. Richard Hall / The Independent 7/16 A protester faces off with a police officer Women have played a key role in these protests. They have been on the frontline of demonstrations and sit-ins — which had a marked effect reducing violence. For the first week, police didn't know how to deal with them. In this picture, a woman police officer tries to negotiate with a protester to remove a road block. She was part of a team of women police officers sent out on this day. Richard Hall / The Independent 8/16 A group of women resists police attempts to remove their sit-in This image was taken during a police attempt to remove people from blocking a road. Again, the presence of woman at the front of the sit-in led to the police abandoning the attempt. Richard Hall / The Independent 9/16 A woman chants at a roadblock protest on Beirut's ring road Protesters said the road blocks were vital in keeping up pressure on the government. Without them, they would be ignored. Richard Hall / The Independent A living room is set up on one of Beirut's busiest roads Some of the roadblocks were more relaxed than others. Richard Hall / The Independent 11/16 Tens of thousands pack Tripoli's Nour Square The protests may have started in Beirut, but they have sprung up around the country. This photograph was taken in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city. Protests there have outsized those in the capital Beirut. The city has been called the"bride of the revolution." Richard Hall / The Independent 12/16 The crowd looks up as a singer performs for protesters in Tripoli's Nour Square The scenes in Tripoli are even more remarkable given its recent history. For years it has been plagued by extremism and violence. These mass displays of unity in the city's main square every night have done a lot to counter other Lebanese citizens' perception of Tripoli. Richard Hall / The Independent 13/16 Young men take photographs of protests in Tripoli's Nour Square Tripoli is also one of Lebanon's poorest cities. The protests here have been fuelled by desperation of poor people struggling to get by. Richard Hall / The Independent 14/16 Police protect protesters from Hezbollah supporters But the protests have not been without their opponents. As demonstrations entered their second week, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement began to show anger at protesters for their demand that all Lebanon's political leaders stand down. In this image, police stand between protesters and a group of Hezbollah supporters in downtown Beirut. Clashes broke out when they left. Richard Hall / The Independent 15/16 A group of Hezbollah and Amal supporters attacks peaceful protesters in Beirut The worst violence of the protests came towards the end of the second week. Several hundred supporters of Hezbollah and its political ally Amal attacked protesters who were blocking the main ring road in Beirut. Afterwards, they stormed into downtown and destroyed a protest encampment. Richard Hall / The Independent 16/16 Protesters pile tent poles in downtown Beirut after they were destroyed by Hezbollah and Amal supporters But the protesters came back to the main square, made a mountain from the poles of destroyed tents and placed a flag in it. The same day, Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri resigned, given protesters their first major victory. Richard Hall / The Independent Red Cross and Lebanese Civil Defence teams, at least 377 people were injured on Saturday, with more than 120 of those taken to hospital for treatment. One protester was blinded in the right eye when he was hit by a rubber bullet, according to reports. Lawyers representing the demonstrators said 43 people were arrested and that many of them were beaten in custody before being released. Lebanon’s internal security forces said 142 of its members were hurt in the clashes. At least 114 protesters were injured in the protests on Sunday, according to the Red Cross. Lebanese interior minister Raya El Hassan condemned the attacks on security forces and public and private property as “totally unacceptable”. However, the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch claimed there was a “culture of impunity for police abuse”. “There was no justification for the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon’s riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators,” said Middle East director Michael Page. Independent news email Only the best news in your inbox Read more: The Independent

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