Lebanese protesters, who have been among the faces of the revolution and have assured its persistence, are being rounded up by the new government, according to a new plan by the Minister of Interior.
Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi, a retired Brigadier General, has announced on Friday, February 1st, his plan to deal with “non-peaceful protesters." Yet, no details of what his plan encompasses were given to the public.
He stated, “Rioters attack public property, private property, and security forces, which deviates the rightful demands of the movement. I don’t believe that road blockages are legitimate."
Right after the infamous parliamentary 2020 Budget session last week, there were attempts to reopen and dismantle the revolution squares, mainly in downtown Beirut. Security forces tried removing the iron barriers at Martyrs Square entrance, but protesters closed it back down.
Since that day, the general opinion is that the new government intends to put an end to the revolution.
السلطة تحاول التذاكي على المساحات العامة للانتفاضة. ازالت الحواجز واعادت فتح السير في ساحة الشهداء امام السيارات، عاد الشبان والشابات فاغلقوها. السلطة تحاول اعادة الامور الى ما قبل١٧ تشرين لكنها لن تنجح بحسب رواد هذه الساحة #لبنان_ينتفض pic.twitter.com/ZI0hApa5zt— Salman Andary (@salmanonline) January 28, 2020
Protesting for a better Lebanon free of corruption and oppression has been the objective of each and every protester who took to the streets since October 17, 2019. In the previous week, many of the outspoken ones have been summoned by the police or arrested and interrogated.
Linda Assad Bolous Makari was summoned for questioning with charges of providing food and transportation to the protesters and people of Tripoli.
Rabih El-Zein, George Azzi, and Mohammad Srour were arrested for issues related to alleged sabotage of public property. According to MTV News, Investigative Judge Bassam El-Hajj issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for El-Zein "on charges of incitement."
Both Azzi and Srour were similarly charged. El-Zein was later moved to Roumiyeh Prison and has been in custody since then.
According to Al Modon news, General Security arrested the activist Moussa Krinbi at Beirut International Airport. Activists assume that he was arrested for damage to public property, but the exact reason is unknown.
After these arrests, people gathered in Jounieh on Friday to protest against oppression, demanding the release of the arrested protesters.
Activist Ibrahim Mneimneh expressed the ongoing concerns in regards to “a change in the authorities’ approach in dealing with popular movements since the formation of the new government,” he said to Asharq Al-Awsat.
With the recent events, it seems that the new plan embarked on by the Minister of the new Lebanese government aims to discourage protesters and limit the freedom of expression further.
In that regard, MP Paula Yacoubian commented in an online video, saying: "The amounts of arrests happening are unacceptable." She warned the state and "the security brain behind the idea of terrorizing and scaring protesters" that this doesn't work anymore.
"If that used to work before, it's impossible to work today. That is going to cause all the people to go back to the streets. Today, there are no people scared. The people know that they are the strongest and that you are the ones scared of them," she stated addressing the government.
She also warned PM Hassan Diab and the new Minister of Interior to be careful of their decisions regarding Lebanon's internal security. She also revealed details on certain arrests, putting forward some question marks.