On Saturday 14 December, revolutionaries and security forces in Lebanon were aggressively attacked by a group of political party supporters. They threw stones, fireworks, and physically and verbally assaulted the police and the protesters in central Beirut for over 12 hours. This violent and barbaric attack resulted in over a hundred wounded that were transmitted to nearby hospitals.
Some injured protesters didn’t even know who hit them. Gassingbombs were being thrown from the protesters’ side towards other fellow protesters. A surprising presence of men in black holding sticks of security forces, etc.
People had many questions after these events. The most important were: Why were the security forces suddenly so aggressive and violent with the protesters? After all, the security forces were attacked by the political party supporters, then why take it out on the peaceful people of the revolution? Plus, who are the men in black that were using the security forces’ batons?
Ready to answer all those questions, Major General Othman of the internal security forces paid the revolutionaries a visit in central Beirut. Politician Sami Gemayel had even accused the security forces of colluding with the infiltrators. After all the talks, the accusations and the anger sparked by the security’s behavior towards the protesters in the previous days, the Major General gave the following explanations:
He answered the complaints and concerns of one protester by saying that all the officers of the internal security forces and the Lebanese constitution preserve the people’s rights to peaceful demonstrations. He pointed out that one of the foundation’s duties is to protect public freedoms within the framework of the law.
Major General Imad Othman explained that since the first day of the revolution, he issued that attacks on the security forces are not permitted, calling on the demonstrators to keep the movements peaceful.
He also pointed out that 54 officers fell wounded from the attack, so their reaction wasn’t unjustified. He continues that violence does not lead anywhere and that all actions should be organized and according to the laws. “We are all required to protect the country and its institutions. We maintain law and the demonstrators must respect the military suit.”
His overall message to the revolutionaries was to maintain their peaceful image that has gained the respect of the whole world, and in return the security forces will provide them with protection according to the law.
Othman’s visit wasn’t just to speak to the revolutionaries, but also to address the officers; he told them: “These protesters’ are our people and our families, and we should be peaceful towards them.”
When asked about the rumors of his allegiance to the former PM Saad el Hariri, the Major General assured that his work has nothing to do with politics.
He ascertained, “I act as the director-general of the security forces for all of Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and we will investigate who assaulted the demonstrators. I have the honor to be in a personal relationship with all politicians, but this is personal.”
He assured that all the attacks towards the Lebanese protesters’ are being investigated, including that of the parliamentary police and the men in black.
In his turn, defense minister Elias Bou Saab stated to Al-Jadeed TV that he will start investigating all these events as soon as he returns to Lebanon and that he has full trust in the judgments and decisions of Minister of Interior Raya el Hasan.
From her side, Minister Hasan declared via MTV, “It is “clear that the protesters have been infiltrated, they provoked the security forces to force the anti-riot police to respond.”
Moreover, videos circulating online are also showing “civilians” with batons among security forces, calling to attack and attacking brutally peaceful protesters.
In hopes that all of these attacks end soon, we urge everyone to be extra cautious, especially those participating in the revolution on Lebanon’s streets. This recent event tells an important matter that we must heed:
Violence and incitement to violence by infiltrators among the peaceful protesters are the plan to derail the revolution and destroy it. We should not allow it, for violence has never been a tool of this revolution that is seeking a peaceful and dignified country for all.