Geneva- The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor condemned the Lebanese army and security oppression of protesters following the outbreak of popular protests due to the deterioration of economic conditions.
The organization expressed in a statement its deep concern over the use of the Lebanese army and security forces of repression against popular protests in the recent days, including using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.
According to a statement, Fawaz Fouad Al-Samman, 26, the father of a one-year girl, was killed by the army’s lethal force. He was shot in his thigh and fell into a coma. Al-Samman is the seventh victim since the outbreak of protests in the country in 17 October 2019.
The organization documented protestors’ testimonies of the illegal use of live and rubber bullets, which violates international law. It documented cases that were subjected to harsh beatings by sticks and rifle butts, causing the injury of more than 30 demonstrators, including children, and the detention of more than ten demonstrators. Demonstrators in Tripoli were injured in the upper part of their bodies and from a very closed range as a result of the excessive and unjustified use of force.
The Euro-Med Monitor demanded the Lebanese authorities to conduct an urgent, transparent and independent investigation into recent events, mainly the death of Al-Samman and pursue perpetrators legally, particularly that the forensic report confirmed the cause of death, based on to the victim's family testimony.
Anas Al-Jerjawi, the Euro-Med Regional Director in MENA, said riots and destruction of public and private property don’t not justify the use of lethal force against protestors, which violates their right to life. He added that Lebanese demonstrations, despite the Coronavirus pandemic, protest against the deterioration of economic situation, stressing that the government should implement financial support plans and urgently instead of using oppression against protestors.
He noted to the obligation of the Lebanese authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Lebanese Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
The organization demanded the Lebanese authorities to commit to the basic principles related to the use of force and gunfire which stated that "Any use of force by law enforcement forces must be proportionate and should only be escalated if other measures are ineffective in addressing a real threat and unable to achieve the desired result". The Euro-Med Monitor demanded the Lebanese government to adopt all possible measures to ensure demonstrators’ safety, respect their right to demonstrate and freedom of opinion, allow detained protestors to meet their families and lawyers and release them instantly.
In 2019, Lebanon suffered from the worst economic crisis since the outbreak of the civil war (1975-1990). The situation was exacerbated due to the spread of the Coronavirus and the imposition of quarantine.
Demonstrators complain about the unreasonable rise of consumer prices and the deterioration of the Lebanese Lira value, which resulted in the loss of purchase power. The suffering of people in the country has aggravated in Ramadan as they can't afford food during the holy month.
Several cities in Lebanon, mainly Tripoli and Sidon, witnessed protests against the deterioration of the economic situation and the arbitrary financial measures by Banque du Liban (Bank of Lebanon) and other Lebanese banks by imposing illegal restrictions on deposits in US dollar in regard to withdrawal and transfer of funds abroad, and the deterioration of the Lebanese Lira where its exchange rate against the US dollar reached unprecedented level, as the one dollar exceeded four thousand Lebanese Liras.