Interior Minister Denies Using Force Against Protesters in Beirut

On February 11th, thousands of protesters flocked to protest the confidence vote that took place at the parliament in Beirut. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to stop the session and the government had, therefore, gained the confidence vote.

 

The protests were notably very violent, reaching over 400 injuries with 45 requiring hospitalization. The security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters.

Via Associated Press

On February 12th, the interior minister Mohammad Fahmi had a meeting with the ambassadors of Canada, Australia, and France. In the meeting, he addressed the Canadian Ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux, denying that the security forces have used violence against the protesters.

 

“Protesters were not handled with force … security forces worked to protect peaceful protesters and public and private property,” he said. 

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A Human Rights Watch researcher, however, believes the opposite, releasing a statement saying, “While Prime Minister Hassan Diab was talking to a half-empty parliament hall about the importance of the right to protest, security forces were throwing tear gas and beating people up outside.”

 

Fahmi, in the meeting, told the Canadian Ambassador that his priority was to develop Lebanon’s woefully overcrowded prisons, improve municipalities, and support women and children’s rights.

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He also stated that fixing the Lebanese economy was very important. During the meeting, the Canadian Ambassador announced that her country will support Lebanon.

 

“Canada will support Lebanon in improving the municipal police’s capabilities in Lebanon so that the security forces will be able to provide security for the many areas and municipalities in the country,” she said.

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The Australian Ambassador Rebekah Grindlay congratulated Lebanon for its government gaining the confidence of parliament and emphasized that she will also provide her support for Lebanon. She also gave her condolences for the attack in Ouzai and said that “collaboration in security with Lebanon is a priority.”

 

Fahmi, in turn, wished that Australia would “assist in building prisons, developing our capabilities, and supporting the security forces.”

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The French Ambassador Bruno Foucher also expressed his country’s willingness to support Lebanon, saying that they will be collaborating in the fight against terrorism.

 

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That the interior minister denies so openly a blatant reality that has occurred in the open and was covered by all media outlets is kind of remarkable, to say the least.

 

Whether the officials were so sheltered in the parliament building they couldn’t hear or see, or pretend not to see or hear, the world was nonetheless watching and hearing; including the countries that these ambassadors represent in Lebanon.