Dozens detained by Lebanon security forces after violent clashes

As the financial crisis deepens, protestors have returned to the street, denouncing the police's use of force.

Hussein Malla/AP
Riot police scuffle with anti-government protesters outside police headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 15, 2020. The demonstrators were demanding the release of 59 people arrested the previous night.

Lebanese protesters Thursday decried security forces' use of violence during rallies over the past two days, including attacks on journalists and the detention of more than 100 people.

Dozens of people, including journalists, rallied outside the Interior Ministry denouncing what they said was the systematic use of force against members of the media. Many raised photos of journalists getting beaten by riot police. Others gathered outside the American University of Beirut and a police station where dozens have been detained since Tuesday.

After a period of calm, protests have returned to Lebanon as politicians fail to form a new government and an unprecedented economic crisis deepens.

"It has been over 90 days since the beginning of the protests and to this day the authorities have completely failed to address the demands of the protests," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East director. "In the past two days, we have seen an escalation on both sides."

Protests turned violent Tuesday when demonstrators pelted security forces with stones and water bottles and smashed windows of commercial banks they accuse of corruption and denying them their deposits. Meanwhile, security forces have used "excessive" tear gas in densely populated districts and detained more than 100 people, including five minors according to lawyers, in an unprecedented wave of arrests, Ms. Maalouf said. They have beaten and verbally abused some protesters and attacked journalists, trying to prevent them from filming, she said. A Reuters video journalist was injured by security forces and treated in a hospital.

Late Wednesday and Thursday, authorities began releasing detainees.

Hussein Baydoun, a photographer, said he was briefly detained and asked to erase his pictures by security forces who came after him as he filmed clashes outside a police station Wednesday night.

"The officer and three soldiers came at me and [the officer] said bring him to me. They held me and they wrestled the camera from me," Mr. Baydoun said.

Bachir Abu Zeid was one of over 50 protesters detained late Wednesday outside the police station. He was pulled inside as he tried to help others who fell to the ground. He said he was kept in a small cell with 30 people overnight and was only allowed to call his family nearly six hours after he was taken in.

"We are expecting this. It is becoming more violent from them and us. They are not listening to people," Mr. Abu Zeid said after his release. "This repression will only make us stronger and give us momentum."

Interim Interior Minister Raya El Hassan said attacks on the press were "rejected" and promised an investigation. She said security forces are "tired" and "scared for themselves" after 90 days of protests. That doesn't justify the attacks, she said, but she appealed to journalists to put themselves in the shoes of the security forces, adding that 100 security personnel have been injured.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to