Violence Ahead of Government Confidence Vote
Lebanese security forces, including riot police, parliament police, army paratroopers, and army commando regiments, encircled the parliament building in downtown Beirut and clashed with protesters ahead of a vote of confidence for the new cabinet.
Thousands of protesters gathered around the entrances to parliament early on February 11 and tried to obstruct MPs from attending the session. Protesters reject the new cabinet, saying its members have clear connections to established political parties and are unable to address the economic crisis.
Human Rights Watch observed security forces launching tear gas to disperse protesters at the entrances to parliament, and fired some canisters directly at protesters in violation of international standards. A teargas canister went through a woman’s cardboard sign and burnt the flag around her neck. A journalist reported being hit in the leg with a teargas canister.
Security forces also used water cannons to disperse protesters around the Annahar building. Two protesters from Tripoli told Human Rights Watch that security forces launched teargas and aimed water cannons at them around the Annahar building at 8 a.m. without any provocation. A local media watchdog reported that security forces fired a rubber bullet that hit a photographer’s in the mouth near the Annahar building.
Human Rights Watch observed soldiers beating protesters around the ESCWA building, and saw riot police beating protesters around the Zkak el-Blat entrance. One injured protester told Human Rights Watch that a riot police officer threw a rock that hit his head near the Riad al-Solh entrance. Some supporters of Amal and Hezbollah also threw rocks at protesters around the Ring road and Zkak el-Blat.
The protests were overwhelmingly peaceful in the morning, but Human Rights Watch observed a few protesters throwing rocks at security forces and hurling teargas canisters back at them. Other protesters threw water bottles, rocks, and eggs at the parliamentarians’ convoys. One parliamentarian was transported to the hospital after protesters attacked his convoy.
Around noon, after the parliamentary session started, some protesters attempted to break into Nejmeh Square, where parliament is located. They threw rocks and fireworks at security forces and removed at least two of the concrete and metal barriers that security forces had set up around the compound’s perimeter. Security forces escalated their response, launching large amounts of teargas, firing rubber bullets, and beating protesters.
As of 4:30 p.m., the Lebanese Red Cross reported treating 328 injuries at the scene and transporting 45 to nearby hospitals.
This young girl climbed onto the concrete barriers around parliament raising the #Lebanon flag. Security forces fired water cannons at her to get her down. They formed a rainbow behind her instead. #LebanonProtests #لبنان_ينتفض pic.twitter.com/GtvuZORi9q
— Aya Majzoub (@Aya_Majzoub) February 11, 2020