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Lebanese military intelligence 'forcibly disappeared, tortured' Tripoli protesters: HRW Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Lebanese military intelligence 'forcibly disappeared, tortured' Tripoli protesters: HRW

Protestors were held in Tripoli at the end of January [AFP/Getty-file photo]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2021

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Lebanese activists have been tortured after taking part in January's Tripoli protests.
Lebanese activists protesting coronavirus restrictions and the country's continued economic meltdown in January have suffered torture and forced disappearances from security forces, Human Rights Watch said this week.

Lebanon's military intelligence authorities were involved in abusing protesters in Tripoli, Lebanon's second city, the report claims.

Read more: Five things you need to know about the protests in Lebanon

The New York-based NGO said many citizens were facing baseless terror charges in military courts, which HRW described as an unlawful legal process for prosecuting civilians.

Other activists were accused of offences ranging from involvement in unauthorised protests to violence against security forces.

While 19 of the 35 individuals - whose number includes children - have now been released, four are still being held.

The mother of 28-year-old Tarek Badawiyyeh, who was among the detained, said: "I didn't leave a person or a place that I didn't ask. 

"But no one knew… I thought maybe someone beat him or killed him, you know the situation in the country. For three days, I was living in hell. I thought my child was gone."

Ali Hashem, 34, told Human Rights Watch he was beaten and insulted by security forces, while blindfolded and in handcuffs.

"They told me, 'You want freedom? Fuck your freedom'," Hashem recounted.

The remaining 12 accused are still not identified, owing to the apparent "secrecy" of the operations against them.

A military investigative judge said these "defendants will know they are charged when they are called in for interrogation", according to Ayman Raad, a lawyer defending six of the accused.

Other violations include interrogation of protesters without a legal representative present and improper conditions, the report added.

Detention conditions at the Reyhaniyyah Military Police headquarters - where five demonstrators were detained - were described as "very cold, dirty and not well ventilated", HRW was told.

Issues raised include inadequate hygiene provisions with detainees limited to just one or two showers per week.

After being transferred to a different military facility, Omar Bekai noted that he now felt "like a human again".

"Lebanese authorities should address the legitimate grievances of people in Tripoli but instead they've escalated repression against a population fighting for dignified life," said HRW's Aya Majzoub.

Human Rights Watch said it contacted the Lebanese army for comment but received no response.

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