Riot police and the Army are clashing with students in Beirut, turning what started as a peaceful demonstration into a scene of violence.
Students gathered outside the American University of Beirut (AUB) on Bliss Street in the district of Hamra on Saturday, demonstrating peacefully against the soaring increase of tuition fees, while the riot police responded with tear gas.
Organized by the secular groups at AUB and LAU, over 300 students have blocked Bliss Street in Hamra, staging a protest against the recent hike in the tuition fee rate to 3,900 LBP/$1 at some private universities.
As the crowd of furious students marched down Hamra Street toward the AUB main gate, they showed their anger toward the establishment and its president, shouting “Fadlo Khouri is a thief”.”
In an effort to disperse them, riot police and army personnel have been launching tear gas on the harmless students.
Enraged by the act of violence from the security forces, students responded by throwing random objects at them.
The Army formed a human shield barrier to prevent students from approaching the gate. According to local TV channel Al Jadeed, students are physically beaten with sticks, forcing the students to retreat to nearby streets.
The students began their march at the Lebanese American University in Koraitem, and ended their march in front of AUB, right when security forces started to react violently.
In an email to students, LAU’s President Michel Mawad wrote that the university “has been severely impacted by the economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic,” leaving the administration with no other choice but to raise the tuition fees.
Students from across Lebanon’s universities, including the Lebanese University, showed up this night to express solidarity toward their peers at AUB and LAU.
For some students, the increase in tuition amid a crippling economic crisis is evidence of a wider system of corruption that is about to halt their education journey, eliminating any option of obtaining a qualified degree that’ll push them into the workforce.
As of the time of writing, the clashes are still ongoing… No report has been issued yet about the injuries.