LEBANON: PROTESTS ARE BACK, BANKS ARE BURNING


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In Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, a protester was killed last Tuesday as a result of soldiers firing tear gas and live bullets against demonstrators. Angry crowds set fire to two banks, and demonstrations spread out across the capital city of Beirut. Over the next few days, four more banks were vandalized and firebombed.
Last Wednesday, seven protesters who had been arrested by army intelligence in the city of Sidon said they had been beaten and subjected to electric shock. The army denied the charges and claimed more than 150 of its personnel had been injured trying to control riots.
With the coronavirus lockdown easing and the country beginning to reopen, the pent-up frustration from last year erupted again as citizens voiced anger against the collapsing economy, government corruption, unemployment, and the lack of basic living standards… all of which we have detailed since the outbreak.
The President of the Middle East Institute, Paul Salem, stated, “The desperation of not being able to feed your family will push people onto the streets in some kind of undefined rage for something to happen.”
As previously reported in the Trends Journal, Lebanon had been one of the hardest hit countries from the extensive global economic slowdown of 2019. Last fall, citizens were barred from taking out all but small amounts of their money from banks.
While COVID-19 has not become a major health issue, only 25 have died out of a population of close to seven million. The collapse of the currency and lack of jobs and basic living necessities remain their major concern.
Last March, the country defaulted on over one billion dollars of debt in euro bonds. Seeing their economy falling apart and suffering from lack of jobs, citizens reignited the protest movement, as hundreds were willing to violate curfew orders to take to the streets.
 

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