Protests in Lebanon, especially in downtown Beirut, have taken a different route in the past week or so.
Riyad el-Solh and Martyrs’ Square, where since the beginning of the Lebanese revolution were full of music, tents, and families, are now full of tear gas, water canons, rocks, and rubber bullets.
Understandably, people are angry, but their anger was met by violent acts from the police’s side. We have seen the aftermaths of this violence several times already; people hospitalized, losing an eye, etc.
Sadly, this protest ground is not a place for families anymore, and surely it’s not somewhere you would want to take your kids or even pass by with a kid.
One Lebanese father, however, was present in Riyad el Solh with his child on Saturday, January the 25th, when the riot started and the security forces opened their water cannons at protesters.
The father and his child weren’t in a group of people. The father was standing on his own, holding his kid. Still, two water cannons targeted them.
The father couldn’t move away, afraid his kid would drop out of his arms if he moves while the water blasted on them. He tried to signal the security forces, raising his arm to show them that he was unarmed and he has a kid in his arms; at no avail.
Weren’t the police aware that they were aiming their cannons at a kid? Was a kid of that age part of the riot? Did he throw rocks at the police or harm public property?
This has gone way past fighting riot or ensuring security, this is pure harm. The pressure of the water was so strong that the father could barely stand his ground.
This went on until a protester rushed in to rescue the kid who was soaked wet. Note that the weather was cold, almost freezing that night.
The undiscriminating aggressive acts of the riot police and the anger-driven protesters have turned the revolutionary squares unsafe and dangerous for everyone, let alone little kids.
We hope that this child is doing okay and that we don’t see any incident of the like ever again.