Demonstration activity in Lebanon has been overflowing in the past week amidst a notable media cover-up. On Monday, January 6, several protests customarily took place in the usual locations and squares in Beirut. Two particular and similar protests, however, caught the attention on social media.
People had marched to and blocked the Zouk Mosbeh highway in a scene that has become a common sight after almost 3 months of daily demonstrations.
However, these protesters were there strictly to demand the release of the detained activist Georges Azzi.
Azzi had been arrested by the Directorate of Intelligence in the Lebanese Army due to his alleged involvement in the crimes related to breaking into a bank and burning its ATM in the Zouk Mosbeh-Kesserwan area, a few days ago.
أحراق فرع مصرف في جونية -ذوق مصبح هي ليس صدفة ولا تعبير ثوري هي ليست وسيلة تعبير ولا طريقة للتصرف في المصارف التي تعاني من شح السيولة و المهددة بالأفلاس والأقفال هنالك جنى العمر للعديد من اللبنانيين هنالك أموال المتقاعدين و الأرامل و اليتامى هنالك أموالنا و جنى عمرنا…. أذهبوا pic.twitter.com/ydeSSfkzOn
The demonstrators insisted on Georges Azzi’s innocence and consequently called for his release as they blocked the main highway with burning tires.
The army called in reinforcements to Zouk Mosbeh and evidently ordered the soldiers to clear the area from the protesters sitting in the middle of the street.
The soldiers proceeded to carry out the orders and resorted to carrying the protesters individually to the sides of the road.
The soldiers also used excessive force in some cases against protesters who resisted the army’s procedure to unblock the highway. In the process, they also arrested one of the protesters, named Bashir Eid.
The army was ultimately able to clear the streets from obstacles and protesters, and the traffic in that area returned to normal after some time of being disabled.
Georges Azzi has not been released at the time of writing this. LBCI sources have confirmed that he did confess of participating in the criminal acts. On the other hand, Bashir Eid was released by the army later during the night.
The Lebanese Army also released a statement, later on, commenting on the incident and the arrest of Bashir Eid.
In a similar case on Thursday, January 9th, a group of people rallied in front of the police station of Bourj Hammoud, demanding the release of a protester. His name is Savio Eid and he had been arrested by security forces for participating in a protest and blocking a street.
So far, Savio Eid is still imprisoned and people outside the station moved to continue their protest in front of Judge Ghada Aoun’s residence, in hope of resulting in the release of the apparently innocent man.
Meanwhile, the army intelligence reportedly raided the house of another protester, Muhammad Sururm, in Zouk, and arrested him, for the second time; the first time was last week when he was detained for two days. A call was launched for a solidarity sit-in outside of the Army barrack in Sarba.