Several persons injured when police clashed with protesters

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by Salah Takieddine

Clashes renewed on Sunday between Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces and thousands of protesters who gathered for the second consecutive day in downtown Beirut demanding that the government either find a quick solution to the waste problem or resign.

Red Cross
Red Cross

The Lebanese Red Cross said it had transferred more than 37 wounded protesters to hospitals for treatment, while Health Minister Wael Abu Faour called on medical centers to receive all cases on the health ministry expenses.

Television footage showed medics carrying away bloody protesters when police fired several rounds of tear gas at a crowd which had tried to tear down a barb wire barrier near the Grand Serail, and the parliament House.
Police first began firing water cannons at the protesters, while the protesters responded by throwing water bottles and rocks back at the police.

The protesters started evacuating the Riad al-Solh square and moved toward Martyr’s Square, chanting slogans such as “the people want the downfall of the government” and “revolution!”

A mass of protesters stayed behind and clashed with police from across a barb wire barrier, setting fire to a police motorcycle. Police fired several rounds of tear gas, forcing protesters who tried to breach the security barrier to pull back.

The protests led by the “You Stink” campaign gathered downtown Beirut on Saturday, and initially calling on the government to fix the waste crisis that was caused by the closing of the Naameh landfill on July 17th.

The garbage filled the streets of Beirut and other parts of the country in an unprecedented crisis.

But the “You Stink” spokesperson Ali Bazzi called on protesters to return to Riad al-Solh Square on Monday for a fresh protest.

Bazzi denied that the protesters who had battled police in Riad al-Solh belonged to their movement, accusing political parties of sending their partisans to stir violence.

The activist accused the protest “infiltrators” of vandalizing an ISF vehicle.

The protesters placed the barbed wires back in its places in an attempt to show that their movement is peaceful, but violent clashes broke out later and the police managed to push most of the protesters from the Riad al-Solh Square.

The “You Stink” campaign vowed to stay planted in Downtown Beirut until Prime Minister Tammam Salam steps down.

Salam earlier Sunday called on civil society organizations and activists to form a delegation to meet with him and discuss the crises.

“I am ready to hear your demands. I have nothing to hide,” the premier said in a press conference and vowed to hold those responsible for the excessive violence employed against demonstrators accountable.

Bazzi hailed the release of all protesters detained by police during Saturday’s demonstration as a victory for the movement, but said they would not rest until those who attacked them were held accountable.

Protesters, who originally took to the streets to call for sustainable solutions to the garbage crisis, began demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, the Cabinet and immediate parliamentary elections after Saturday’s clashes with security forces.

The Internal Security Forces later emphasized in a statement posted on its website that it “fully respects citizens’ right to express their opinion and stage peaceful protests.”

“In this regard, we have worked and will work on protecting protesters … but we are also compelled to protect public institutions at all times and are within the law to prevent infiltrators from assaulting legislative and executive institutions and private property.”

People in several areas across Lebanon briefly blocked roads in solidarity with Riad al-Solh protesters.
Ali Slim, another spokesperson for the “You Stink” campaign, later in the day read a statement calling on protesters to regroup again Monday in the same square.

“We entirely refuse to negotiate with the cabinet until it takes effective and clear measures to guarantee holding the responsible political and security officials accountable and back down on the excessive use of violence with protesters.”

He said that they refuse to discuss any issue with Salam before he resigns. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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