In Lebanon, March 14 is now just another date
The memory of that day a decade ago still conjures up images of elation
It was born a legitimate grass roots movement of the people, for freedom and for “the truth.” For those of us who witnessed and reported on that glorious March 14 day in Martyr’s Square ten years ago, the date means as much as the emotions that flowed from the varied groups of people from all walks of life demanding “the truth.”
Like any other spontaneous demonstration or uprising, when ordinary people descended on Martyr’s Square they did not know for sure the extent of their power. Nor did they know whether they would be effective or successful.
They braved the Syrian tyranny and its repressive Lebanese sister regime and shouted at the top of their lungs, “We want the truth of who killed Rafik Hariri.”
The demand was genuine, organic and powerful. It led to the end of Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, the fall of the Syrian-appointed puppet government and the defeated exit of all Syrian troops from Lebanon. For those of us who have always dreamed of a sovereign Lebanon, the events of that day will be etched in our memory forever.
The fact that March 14 became a movement symbolizing the first official revolution of what would later become the Arab Spring, is a feat for many of us, and it will remain so despite all the changes and the losses that occurred since.
Prelude to Arab Spring
Does the March 14 Movement as a political outfit today represent much of those who marched on Martyr’s Square ten years ago? Of course not.
What is now known as March 14 is nothing but a political group trying to score points against other groups in the arena. What started as a popular uprising that refused to compromise, ended up being just another group of people in suits playing the game of politics as usual.
Are the doctors who walked in their white robes on March 14, 2005 represented in today’s March 14 Movement? How about the Lebanese youth groups who were ecstatic that day as they were finally helping write the history of their times? Many heroes of that revolution were assassinated since that historic day. The real voices are missing.
It is no surprise then that March 14 is back to being just another day in our life. The memory of that day a decade ago still conjures up images of elation, peaceful revolution and the ultimate kind of people power in the hearts and minds of those who believed in change, freedom and the search for truth.
But the randomness of the present day irks us as we long for bygone days and bygone heroes and a bygone times when, even if only for a few weeks, freedom seemed to be so close we could almost reach it with our hands.
This article was first published in al-Nahar on March 17, 2015.
Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.