Lebanon: Protesters in Tripoli gather peacefully after recent security force violence

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Protesters gathered in Lebanon’s second largest city of Tripoli on Sunday, days after security forces killed one protester and injured others in a violent crackdown.

Nationwide demonstrations began in Lebanon back in October against widespread corruption and a deteriorating economic situation. Despite the appointment of a new government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab, protesters have recently begun to take to the streets again as Lebanon’s already dire economic system worsens due to its ongoing currency crisis and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tripoli has been one of the centers of the protest movement, and on Monday protesters torched banks and clashed with security forces, who shot dead 26-year-old Fawaz Fouad al-Samman. His death sparked another night of vandalism aimed at banks on Tuesday.

Watch: Banks burn as Lebanon’s Tripoli rises up in hunger

Today, protesters returned to the streets in central Tripoli, without any signs of violence but voicing their determination to continue their revolution.

“The army and the security forces has been acting like protectors and guards for the banks, for the private banks, for the central bank, and for the government that has been stealing the people’s money for the past 30 years since the Civil War has ended,” said the late Fawaz’s sister, Fatima Fouad al-Samman.

Protests have centered on banks amid an unprecedented devaluation of the Lebanese lira. Due to ad hoc capital controls, Lebanese have been unable to easily access funds in their bank accounts for months, and rising inflation has seen the value of the lira sink from its pegged rate of 1507 lira to $1 to around 4,000 lira to $1.

“They’re shooting the people, they’re killing the people who are protesting peacefully, without no legal argument, without no legal judgment. So I think that this revolution is going to continue. We’re going to put all the needed efforts to be able to organize ourselves on the streets, and to be able to [over]throw the system and realize what we really want,” she told Al Arabiya English.

Solidarity from other citites

Baraa Chamsine of Tripoli, a friend of al-Samman’s, said Tripoli residents welcome the sign of solidarity from other regions.

“This is a sign that this revolution really united all the different areas and we’re standing with one hand,” he said.

Read more: Protests against economic hardship in Tripoli spread to other Lebanese cities

Chamsine added that the recent confrontations with the army had been the work of a “fifth column.”

“But today we’re coming down to affirm that our revolution is peaceful and will remain peaceful,” he said.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown more harm than help for Lebanese who can't afford to stay home

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