Amnesty slams Lebanon army for 'excessive use of force'

Amnesty slams Lebanon army for 'excessive use of force' in protest crackdown
2 min read
01 November, 2019
Amnesty International said the 'excessive use of force' by the Lebanese army against protesters was 'deeply worrying'.
Protests have paralysed Lebanon [Getty]
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged Lebanon's army to stop using force on demonstrators who are protesting corruption.

The rights group has said it obtained footage and eyewitness accounts of Lebanese security forces shooting protesters staging a sit-in the Beddawi area of Tripoli on 26 October. 

"In the single most violent episode since the mass protests began, the army opened fire against dozens of protesters staging a sit-in the Beddawi area of Tripoli on 26 October," Amnesty International said in a press release.

"At least two protesters suffered gunshot wounds. The Lebanese armed forces also violently dispersed protests in Saida and Abdeh and army and other security forces failed to intervene effectively to protect demonstrators in Beirut from violent attacks by supporters of political groups over the past week."

Amnesty's Middle East Research Director branded the as escalation as "deeply worrying."

"The Lebanese army's excessive use of force in Beddawi, as well as the security forces’ failure to protect peaceful protesters, are deeply worrying and must be immediately investigated in an independent, impartial and transparent manner," said Lynn Maalouf.

Read also: 'Enough!': Lebanese protesters demand change as demonstrations stand strong

"Holding perpetrators to account must be an urgent priority. The authorities must adopt a zero-tolerance stance to any excessive use of force against peaceful protesters. Failing to do so would send a dangerous message to security forces that they have free rein to commit abuses without facing justice," she added.

Lebanon's protests started last month as a reaction to endemic corruption.

Demonstrators have paralysed the country, which is already grappling with a severe fiscal crisis that protesters blame on political elites who have ruled since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

More than a quarter of Lebanon's population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. 

The unprecedented demonstrations have also brought together Lebanese from all sects and political affiliation, uniting them in a common demand that long-serving politicians, accused of corruption and mismanagement, step down.