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Amidst grief and anger: Lebanon’s current reality

After the devastating tragedy, Lebanon’s beloved capital has made the first page on many news outlets. As the gorgeous Beirut suffered, Lebanese citizens from all the nations griefed. Thus, the world stood once again witness to the Lebanese rotten to the core government. The explosion that broke Lebanon’s soul is nothing if not yet another reminder of the corruption that has been ruling Lebanon for the past decades. 

Beirut’s explosion

On Tuesday 4, August 2020, Beirut’s suffered one of the most brutal explosions that took place during the last decade. The United States Geological Survey data stated that Beirut’s explosion generated seismic waves equivalent to a magnitude 3.3 earthquake. Moreover, the blast measured up to 2.75 kilotons. For now, collected data states that the explosion resulted in the death of 158 and the wounding of  6,000 others. It also rendered almost 3,000 citizens homeless during a global pandemic.

Negligence and corruption

When such events usually take place, it is pretty much the cost of a cruel war. However, Bierut’s explosion was a different matter. For some yet unknown reason, a human-made fire broke out in Beirut’s port. However, that very first initial blast was nothing compared to what took place minutes later. 

The fire’s flames then caught the  2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that were secretly stored in the port since 2014. Hence, the fire ignited a fiery explosion and destroyed almost half of Beirut. 

Protesters filling the streets

Filled with grief and sorrow, the Lebanese waited three days to bury their loved ones while processing their trauma. The nation united in the face of the crisis, offering homes, food, and blood supplies to all the people affected by the disaster. 

Then on the fourth day, they took the streets as a platform to express their anger and despair.  The country was already suffering an economic crisis as well as the mishandling of the pandemic. Thus, the explosion was the final straw. 

On Saturday, almost 10,000 protesters from all over Lebanon gathered in  Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square. The protest was mainly under the slogan “Bury the authorities first.”

They demanded justice and removal of the current government. However, as they tried to reach the parliament building, the police stood in their way. Moreover, the police fired teargas along with rubber bullets on the protestors. Some protestors also confirmed the use of live shots against them on several occasions. The army also attacked protesters with sticks and other objects. In retaliation, protestors hit the police with firecrackers and stones.

Furthermore, While covering the protest, almost 14 journalists and other media workers have been attacked. Additionally, More than 728 people were wounded during the rally.

In addition, the protestors were successful in taking over the foreign ministry building in central Beirut, Lebanese energy ministry, and  Lebanon’s Association of Banks. However, after clashes with the army, the protestors had to retreat.

The government also reported the death of a Lebanese policeman during the brutal clashing with the protestors. 

Aftermath

Following these tragic and unbelievable events, three cabinet ministers, as well as seven members of parliament, quit their positions. Thus, on Monday night and almost a week after the explosion, Lebanon’s government stepped down.

None of the people in power took responsibility for the chemicals that led to this disaster. The resigned prime minister blamed the already rooted corruption as well as the political elites for the country’s current situation. Hence, national and international investigations are still taking place. 

The country will now have to find its third prime minister in less than a year as many still hope for a better, less corrupt government. 

References:

Al Jazeera. (2020, August 11). “We need new blood”: Lebanese demand change after gov’t quits. Lebanon News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/blood-lebanese-demand-change-gov-quits-200811091228350.htmlAzhari, T. (2020, August 11). Investigation: Excessive force used against Beirut protesters. Lebanon News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/investigation-excessive-force-beirut-protesters-200810134441254.htmlLebanon cabinet resigns as anger over blast mounts. (2020, August 10). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53722909Qiblawi, T. A. Y. (2020, August 11). Lebanon’s government steps down in the wake of Beirut blast. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/10/middleeast/lebanon-government-future-intl/index.htmlRegencia, T. (2020, August 9). The second day of protests as anger over the Beirut explosion grows: Live. Lebanon News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/hundreds-protesters-injured-anger-simmers-beirut-live-200808234355971.htmlThe Independent. (2020). Lebanon. https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/Lebanon?CMP=ILC-refresh

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