14 Organizations Just Teamed Up To Defend Freedom Of Expression In Lebanon

JOSEPH EID/AFP

On Monday, fourteen national and international organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), launched the “Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression in Lebanon.”

Their aim is to “present a united front against the authorities’ attempts to stifle free speech and opinion in the country,” said Aya Majzoub, the Lebanon researcher at HRW.

The members of the coalition are:

  • Act for Human Rights (ALEF)
  • Amnesty International
  • Alternative Media Syndicate
  • DARAJ Media
  • Helem
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE)
  • Legal Agenda
  • Maharat Foundation
  • Media Association for Peace (MAPP)
  • Megaphone
  • Samir Kassir Foundation
  • SEEDS for Legal Initiatives
  • Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
  • The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)

“In recent weeks, Lebanese authorities have been waging a campaign of repression against people who expose corruption and rightfully criticize the government’s significant failings,” said the Coalition in its press conference invitation.

According to their press release, the attacks on the freedom of speech and expression of the citizens only increased with the October 17 Revolution as there have been recorded of such all the way back to 2015.

The oppression has increased further since the state prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat began in June a crackdown on people who insult the president or deemed as such.

View this post on Instagram

فقر و ذل و جوع و فساد و قمع للحريات.. ✋🏻 . . . كلف القاضي عويدات المباحث الجنائية مباشرة التحقيقات حول تدوينات تحقر رئيس الدولة. 15 حزيران 2020 كلف النائب العام التمييزي القاضي غسان عويدات قسم المباحث الجنائية المركزية مباشرة التحقيقات ، المعرفة هوية الأشخاص الذين عمدوا الى نشر تدوينات وصور تطال مقام رئاسة الجمهورية وتعليقات تطلب من النيابة العامة التمييزية ملاحقة أصحاب هذه الحسابات عبر مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي ، وذلك بجرم القدح والذم والتحقير ، وإتاحة الإطلاع عليها من خلال public posts ، بحسب ما ذكرت الوكالة الوطنية للإعلام . . . . . 📍Lebanese Revolution 17/06/2020, Ministry of Justice, Beirut, Lebanon 🇱🇧. . . . #لبنان_ينتفض #مكملين #ثورة_لبنان #ثورة_وطن #lebaneserevolution #thawra #lebanon #beirut #lebanonuprising #lebanonprotests #streetphotography #photography #photooftheday #photodocumentary #igdaily #iglebanon #visualambassadors #visualsoflife #photojournalism #nikonphotography #revolution @amnesty @unitednationslebanon @unitednationshumanrights @unitednations @unitednationshumanrights @unitednations_arabic @euinlebanon @euronews.tv @europeancommission @emmanuelmacron @eucouncil #humanrights #photodocumentary #photographer #photojournalism #riot #police #protest #protests #freedomofspeech #freedomofexpression #worldcaptures

A post shared by Marwan G Nassar (@marwan.g.nassar) on

There haven’t been many talks about these arrests, at least by the media, However, the coalition revealed that, so far, “more than 60 people have been arrested or summoned for interrogation for their social media posts.”

The Coalition urged public prosecutors and security agencies to stop investigating people for merely expressing their opinions and exposing corruption.

“Lebanon needs laws to protect the millions of people that have taken to the streets to demand accountability for the decades of corruption and an end to human rights violations,” said the Coalition.

“Parliament should urgently bring the media law in line with international law and prioritize the decriminalization of defamation and insults.”