Human Rights NGO Amnesty International released a statement condemning the aggression Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) have been using against protesters, especially during the past weekend.
“We call on Lebanon to stop using excessive force against protesters. Over 400 people were injured as security forces cracked down on protests in Lebanon. Although mostly peaceful protesters, anti-riot police used: water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons,” the Amnesty said.
“Injuries included suffocation, broken limbs, and severe wounds. Although authorities were restrained at first, they responded with increasing violence,” the statement ended.
In an article posted on Amnesty’s official website, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said: “What we have witnessed in the past couple of days is an alarming attack on freedom of assembly and expression.”
Maalouf insisted that acts by a minority of protesters who vandalized banks or threw stones do not justify the excessive use of force and sweeping arrests by law enforcement.
“We are also alarmed that over the past week security forces attacked at least eight photojournalists and cameramen, threatening and beating them, and also destroying their equipment.”
Human Rights Watch also stood by the rights of protesters to protest for their rights peacefully without violence, asking Lebanese officials to investigate in the extreme use of violence in a “swift independent and transparent investigation.”
Moreover, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about the increase in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Lebanon in recent days, and the use of force by security forces, which is believed disproportionate to the demonstrators.
UNHCR has called on the Lebanese authorities to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into the use of force, unjustified violence, and ill-treatment during arrest and detention, and to compensate victims and their families.
UNHCR confirmed that its regional office in the Middle East received information that 45 people arrested by the Lebanese security forces were severely beaten and ill-treated during interrogation, and at least 377 people were injured on January 18th and 90 others were injured the next day.