DAA Daily

Lebanese Protests Start Against New Austerity Measures

Nanor Pontigian Science and Tech Editor, The PawPrint

It was announced that there will be an addition of 20 cents per day charge on voice over internet protocol use, including apps like Whatsapp, Facebook and others. Protestors took to the streets of Beirut, on Thursday night demonstrating  their frustration towards the Lebanese government. Protesting not only for the new austerity measures but also over the already deteriorating economy. These protests lasted into the early hours of Friday morning.

The cabinet in light of extra charges, said it would begin to discuss an increase in their Value Added Tax (VAT), causing further conflict, and making protesters angrier than before.

The majority of protestors gathered outside government headquarters in Riad el Solh square, while main roads were blocked with burning tires. 

Roads leading to the airport were also closed off by protestors and all travelers had to leave the airport on foot, walking past protest sites  in their attempt to find transportation home.

As the night went on, protesters set a construction site on fire and eventually succeeded in breaking into a municipality building in the south of  Beirut.

The protestors main goal for success seems to be resting upon the resignation of  Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s government.

Saad Hariri delivered a speech around 6:40 p.m on Friday, saying he would give politicians 72 hours to agree on a solution. Protests still continued afterwards. 

Evening of the second day of the protests, after the prime minister’s speech, police began to fire tear gas and rubber bullets and were even seen aiming their weapons at protesters and journalists. Protesters seemed to spread out as the day went on, many people began smashing shop fronts and throwing flares.

The Internal Security Forces said that a total of 52 officers had been injured during the protests on Friday and that they had already arrested around 70 people.

George Kettaneh the head of Lebanese Red Cross told news reporters on Friday, that his medical teams have treated a total of 160 people just over the two days.

23-year old Magalene Mrad, one of the protestors, spoke out at attempt to explain, saying “It’s shameful that this is happening, but the politicians have pushed people to the edge of the abyss. The world has closed around us and all they can do is tax the poor. Soon, we will have to start paying for the air in this country.”

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut, urged Americans to avoid the protest sites and to monitor the news for any updates. Saudi and Egyptian embassies, issued similar warnings. The Kuwaiti Embassy, asked citizens that are planning to travel to Lebanon to wait. They tweeted, saying, “The embassy also calls on citizens currently in Lebanon to take utmost care and stay away from crowds and demonstrations.”

Currently protests are still ongoing and people are waiting for the end of 72 hours to hear the official results. 

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