SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

SKeyes Condemns Brutal Repression and Calls on International Community to Take Firm Stance

Sunday , 09 August 2020

The massive explosion that shook Beirut on August 4 destroyed countless neighborhoods. Death toll is still rising as emergency workers dig through the rubble to search for the disappeared. In parallel, the security and military forces are still carrying acts of blind repression following the orders of ministries of Defense and the Interior, as well as the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the leadership of the Parliament. The security forces deliberately attacked protesters with live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets after spraying them with excessive amounts of teargas, rushing dozens to the city’s damaged, overworked hospitals. In addition, the security and military forces chased protesters around Central Beirut with unprecedented violence but ignored several party-led attacks against them. Dozens of people suffered injuries on August 8, including reporters and photographers. The Lebanese people were expecting the leaders in power over the last years to uncover the truth and hold the ones responsible for the explosion accountable, knowing that officials have been aware of the danger posed by ammonium nitrate cargo at Beirut port for six years. Unfortunately, the authorities have only mastered one technique: repressing citizens who are demanding the truth and asking for a decent life.

The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom calls on the international community, and particularly the countries willing to provide aid to the security services, to reconsider their decision in light of the authorities’ repressive behavior, setting as prerequisite the commitment to human rights and good governance standards after an overall performance assessment of ther previous financial and in-kind assistance.

SKeyes quotes French President Emmanuel Macron during his latest visit to Lebanon. He declared his willingness to support the Lebanese youth “for them to learn how to love freedom and demand it, because we also want to support culture and freedom of expression. When darkness comes across the world, it is so often easy to forget why we fight certain fights. In this particular period, it is of utmost importance to know that freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of creation should prevail in Lebanon.”

Ever since the August 4 blast, the Lebanese authorities have been acting shamefully. As international leaders meet to discuss aid for Lebanon at a donor conference organized by Emmanuel Macron, our authorities are nowhere near the principles that the French President mentioned. SKeyes would also like to warn Macron and other international leaders of the danger of funding authorities who have done nothing but resorting to repression and denying responsibility.

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