Around noon Friday, January 24, a crowd of protesters in Beirut were touring around a number of institutions and councils that they called “gutters of corruption and waste” and peacefully demonstrating in front of their buildings.
As they reached one of their destinations, namely the Council of the South in Jnah, Beirut, they were abruptly and violently attacked by a group of men armed with batons, knives, and “blades.”
Hani Fayyad, an activist who was on the receiving end of the violence, told Al-Jadeed that, despite having informed security forces of their planned protest, “we were surprised by the absence of the security forces at the location when we arrived.”
He said that the protesters were still exiting the buses that they had been riding throughout their demonstration round when the gang of assailants assembled and proceeded to assault them.
In addition to wounding more than 15 of the peaceful men and women, the attackers broke and damaged their 2 buses.
MTV crew was reportedly threatened, and the attackers broke their car and equipment, according to the MTV reporter. “That’s why we retreated from Al-Jnah area,” she said, adding that more than 15 demonstrators were wounded.
In the aftermath of the reckless attack, “the injured dispersed to the residential apartments in the area; some of them went into hiding while others [remained] on the street,” explained the activist.
Fayyad confirmed that the attackers were armed with knives, in addition to wooden sticks.
On that, a trending video posted online showed one of the assailants, armed with a baton and backed by 2 others, brutally beating the lady, a resident of that street, who was recording the incident.
The activist, through his phonecall with Al-Jadeed, blamed the security forces for what happened because, as he stated: “They did not accompany our movement despite us having informed them of it beforehand.”
He also requested support for the wounded, reiterating that the whereabouts of some of them were still unknown after they escaped the scene.
It’s worth mentioning that the Council of the South was not the protesters’ first demonstration site. By the time they reached the site, they had already demonstrated at several other “gutters of corruption and waste” where they had encountered no threats.
Demonstrators getting beating up were heard exclaiming, “Where are the security forces they don’t protect us?”
Indeed, people are wondering if the institution whose slogan is “Security for the Nation and Civilians” is turning a blind eye to thugs terrorizing the civilians who are only demanding a proper nation to live in.
That’s a question that has been dwelling around for a while now as peaceful protesters get beaten up and arrested and thugs are left to roam freely around, causing vandalism and violence.