A couple days ago, a human shield was formed around several key government buildings to stop a parliamentary session from taking place. All roads leading to the parliament in Beirut were blocked as early as 6 or 7 in the morning.
PMs are trying to pass a general amnesty law that many legal experts deem unconstitutional. The approval of such a law would mean the release of people who have been unjustly punished and imprisoned. However, it would also mean the acquittal of criminals and of politicians charged with corruption and/or the commutation of their sentences.
The human shield was successful and, by 11 am, the session was canceled and postponed indefinitely because protesters were able to successfully ensure that quorum was not met in the parliament.
However, a few incidents involving the Lebanese Red Cross took place at the human shield and protests, which needs addressing. These incidents prompted the Lebanese Red Cross to release this PSA:
Some protesters were worried and felt paranoid that ministers were using the Lebanese Red Cross ambulances to sneak through the human shield and into the parliament.
Protestors jumped in front of several ambulances with sirens blaring. They looked through windows, ripped open the back doors to search for ‘hiding’ ministers. Delaying the ambulances from getting to its destination. And with the Red Cross, every second counts as it could mean life or death for someone in need.
This isn’t acceptable and shouldn’t be allowed. The Lebanese Red Cross and the Red Cross as a whole follow certain codes of conduct and have never, in its history, done anything to justify the mistrust or to question their intentions.
An ambulance with sirens turned on should be like the scene of Moses parting the sea in the middle. Everyone should move out of the way and the ambulance shouldn’t have to stop or even slow down but rather keep maintaining its speed until it gets to its destination – whether it’s getting a patient to the hospital or picking one up.
The only two times an ambulance has its sirens on is if 1) it’s on the way to pick up someone or 2) it’s taking someone to the hospital. Both times are for an emergency. An ambulance isn’t like the police and won’t uselessly turn on the sirens for fun. They shouldn’t have to detour and find other routes, delaying their response time and putting the patient or wounded further in danger.
There is a general rule among mass movements and protests around the world that ambulances and fire trucks with sirens on must not be blocked by the protests under any circumstances. It’s only law enforcement.
We’ve seen this recently in Iraq, Chile, and Hong Kong. And the later only started questioning when Hong Kong police were spotted in ambulances the last few days.
The Red Cross has historically been neutral and always helped the people in Lebanon. From every conflict and even during the civil war. Countless lives have been saved thanks to them. They treat us, they are in the front lines in the middle of armed conflicts, they are even at the events and festivals making sure people are okay.
They have been very responsive during the protests, setting up their tents at protest locations and even patrolling among the people to make sure they can respond quickly should anything happen. In just the first week of the protests, the Lebanese Red Cross had 2,999 missions – with half related to the protests; broken down by 676 treated at the scene and another 224 transported to hospitals. That’s just in the first week.
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