Tags Posts tagged with "police brutality"

police brutality

1

No citizen is safe when brutality and hate crimes are tolerated.

When contacted on Twitter this evening, the Lebanese police said they will follow up on the savage attack on a Syrian man recently uploaded to Facebook.

 

The man is kicked, slapped and beaten by men speaking with Lebanese accents and cursed repeatedly until he pledges allegiance to Lebanon’s army. (Flagged for violence: click ‘watch on Facebook’ to view)

 

Tfih. I randomly received this on whatsapp and had the sudden urge to share it! What the fuck's going on in this…

Posted by Tony Eli Kanaan on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 

Meanwhile the police have also said they will investigate the physical assault on a boy by a police officer, which was also recently caught on camera and published by Al Jadeed.

 

عنصر في قوى الأمن يعتدي على طفل بالضرب!برسم قوى الأمن الداخلي

Posted by AljadeedOnline on Monday, July 17, 2017

 

Acts of violence, particularly against Syrians, are not new in Lebanon. The most infamous is that of parents coaching a child to beat a defenseless Syrian boy. First with his hands:

 

 

And then with a stick:

 

 

Even more disturbing is a video of a man threatening to butcher Syrian children with a knife as he waives it in front of them.

“Which one of you should I behead first,” the man tells the crying children.

 

 

The story was covered by The Daily Mail, which reported the man had been arrested. Police also said they opened in investigation into the video of the family encouraging the child to hit the Syrian boy, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

But it is unclear what happened to those arrested or investigated and if anyone was held accountable in other cases, such as the beating of this boy:

 

Meanwhile the Lebanese army has said it will open an investigation into the deaths of four Syrians killed during recent operations against Syrian militants in Arsal. Middle East Eye reported the bodies showed signs of torture.  

Source: Middle East Eye

 

As a response to much of this violence, a protest was recently held in Beirut to demand basic rights for Syrian refugees. However, some Lebanese media and web personalities reacted angrily, claiming the protestors organized to attack the military, and many have offered jingoistic responses:

My views on the Syrian protest

Supporting the Lebanese Army. That's all I have to say.

Posted by El 3ama on Monday, July 17, 2017

 

But no evidence of protestors attacking the military has been provided. What we have seen is a recent surge in videos of Syrians cursing Lebanese on Facebook.

Many Lebanese were enraged by the videos and feel that Syrians should be grateful for the hospitality. Indeed, Lebanon has hosted far more refugees than any country in the world as a percentage of its population, exceeding European countries allowance of refugees by thousands of percent. The US and European countries have taken in shamefully low numbers of refugees compared to Lebanon and attacks have occurred against refugees there as well, perhaps in even greater numbers.

But none of this excuses the acts of brutality we have been seeing. And chances are, far more abuse is happening than is being recorded on camera.

It is true that many Lebanese have suffered a history of violence from Syrian occupation forces during the civil war and many Lebanese were tortured in Syrian prisons. But let us not repeat the abuses that were caused against us. Let us not repeat the abuses brought against Lebanese civilians and children by Western, Israeli and other Arab forces, even local militias, infamous for their torture and massacres.

If crimes can be justified against one person or group, they can be justified against anyone. We have already seen Lebanese face the brutality of their own security forces during protests of recent years and the government has even banned protests as a whole, including protests by Lebanese citizens who are enduring unprecedented levels of corruption.

It is also true that Lebanon’s army has endured some of the toughest battles of its history while defending territory on its borders with Syria and many young soldiers and senior officers have been killed in those battles.

To truly support Lebanon’s army and the integrity of the institutions they seek to defend, the basic human dignity of all persons in the country should be respected and protected, no matter what their nationality or ethnicity. For the sake of Lebanon’s own safety and the relative freedoms citizens still enjoy, all police and military investigations should be closely monitored and the right to free expression and police accountablity needs to be demanded vigilantly and constantly.

***

UPDATE (19 July 2017)

Not long after this post, Lebanon’s Interior Ministry Nouhad Machnouk announced on Twitter that the assailants in the first video have been arrested. However the extent to which they will be prosecuted remains unclear.

0

The passing away of Zahle MP Elias Skaff last week after a “long (unspecified) illness” has opened an unexpected window into the workings of the Lebanese state structure and its deepest fears. In this video broadcast on live TV last week, dozens of armed men loyal to Skaff are seen brazenly opening fire during his funeral procession with little concern for public safety.

 

But rather than condemn this act of potentially deadly and unbridled violence, which defies the very notion of a state–in that it holds a monopoly on guns– the country’s top police official, Minister of Interior Nouhad Machnouk, is actually seen attending the MP’s funeral as barrages of indiscriminate gunfire are unleashed outside:

12107079_1649545445307570_8906797459557910790_n-1
Source: Youstink Facebook page
A senior police officer is even seen marching near the armed vigilantes, who have sophisticated gear fit for a war zone:

12107889_1649545438640904_2988691052869845599_n
Source: Youstink Facebook page

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.14.24 PM
Screen shot: Al Jadeed TV
 

Does this mean the state has lost control?

That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to the police reaction to the unarmed #youstink movement. Compare the silence, if not complicity, with Zahle gunmen to the swift and violent police action that occurs when unarmed protestors push only a few meters toward police lines:

 

Or how protestors holding only Lebanese flags were violently housed and dispersed by riot police:

 

Police are also accused of violating basic human rights protocols in firing tear gas canister directly at protestors, rather than in the air:

 

In fact, the police were so overzealous in their attacks on #youstink protestors in recent weeks that they even shot tear canisters at themselves, drawing laughter from the crowd, but also illustrating their unprepared and perhaps desperate scramble to regain control:

 

On their social media accounts, Minister Machnouk’s Internal Security Forces argue that their tactics were justified because some had thrown rocks toward their barricades breaking a few panes of glass of nearby luxury hotels as well as lightly injuring some officers, a move many in the non-violent movement disavowed. However, this reaction also comes on the back of dozens of protestors being wounded or beaten by police over recent weeks, as well as dozens detained arbitrarily with no access to lawyers for weeks at a time.

Many protestors will also remember when police stood idly by last month as party loyalists savagely attacked activists. I witnessed two of the men briefly arrested (activists say they were quickly released) but police did not seek mass arrests as the gang of violent men walked brazenly in front of riot officers.

 

Ironically the same riot police had hunted down, beat and interrogated some 40 unarmed activists earlier that day as seen in the previous videos in this post. The majority were released without charge yet some now face military tribunals from offenses ranging from insulting officers to pushing over barricades.

Similarly, how many of the gunmen in Zahle were arrested or face military trials for barbarically making the sky rain bullets from their machine guns? If the minister of interior is interested in upholding the state, shouldn’t he launch an investigation into these potentially dangerous armed men in full military gear on his streets or the ones who attacked protestors with impunity in Beirut and then marched nonchalantly past his cops? Will these men be allowed to use their guns and fists however they please, intimidating neighbors and anyone who has a problem with them or what they are doing? If the police do not care, does that mean such men or anyone carrying a gun can also commit crimes and simply get away with it?

Of course these questions go to the root of what we consider Lebanon’s ‘political system’ in which armed parties run the country as they please with no fear of accountability because police would not dare interfere in their business. It is this environment of impunity and intimidation that has allowed militias and their leaders to hand out contracts to unqualified or unregulated private companies that they or their friends own with little concern for efficiency or transparency, in other words “running the country like a corner store” as the Arabic saying goes. And it is exactly these issues that the #youstink movement has galvanized around:

IMG_4131

IMG_4134
Graffiti in downtown Beirut following recent protests
IMG_4132

 

But instead of empathizing with activists demands for a less violent state where militias rule, the interior minister has actually threatened anyone who harms the image of those who have run the country during the post war period, namely the late prime minister Rafik Hariri. In what seems to be a response to allegations that demonstrations are hurting business in the downtown area (where protestors called for accountability in the massive real estate project Hariri established there) Minister Machnouk threatens to use the law to “cut the hands” of anyone of harms Hariri’s legacy:

 

So if armed violence does not bother the interior minister, than why is he so worried about unarmed protestors? What is it that he and “the state” he represents are afraid of exactly?

Do the ruling powers actually fear their jobs could be threatened?

In fact, here are the same “dangerous” protestors this week actually cleaning up garbage on the streets, basically doing the state’s work:

12105823_1650461931882588_1847597317035488299_n

 

And despite tear gas and mass arrests, protestors continue to be released by the courts. Yesterday, the last two to be held, online comedian Pierre Hachach and activist Waref Sleiman, were released after 11 days in detention. They emerged as defiant as ever:

 

One online activist and commentator actually thanked “the state” for adding several hundred new likes to both Pierre and Waref’s Facebook pages, leading people to learn more about their work and that of others involved in the anti-corruption movement:

 

Emilie is just one of many activists and average citizens now making their voices heard on social media, using humor or political commentary, unfazed by all the threats of the state, which seem increasingly ineffective. She ends her video by noting that in addition to the government and its corrupt daily operations, the additional challenge the movement faces is that of those still siting at home or sitting on the fence, accepting that corruption as if it were normal.

Emilie closes by cleverly using all the movements major hashtags in a sentence, addressing those who still stand with the state: “To you we say “you stink” “we will continue” “we want accountability” “for the sake of the Republic”, “All of them means all of them.”

The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban

A video has recently surfaced documenting police beating journalists this week. The reporters were covering the election of a new mufti and security agents decided they needed to teach them “a lesson”

The police even pressed charges against the journalists–accusing them of “slander”– but Prime Minister Tammam Salam intervened, promised an investigation. Now some of the officers have reportedly been “disciplined.”

It’s not immediately clear what is meant by this. Will it amount to more than a slap on the wrist? If anything, the punishment should be publicized so that other police know they are not above the law.

Journalists have often been beaten or intimidated by authorities in Lebanon. An Al Jadeed TV crew was also savagely punched, kicked and detained by customs agents last November for reporting on corruption. I too have had my share of experiences, both physical threats and verbal intimidation from high-ranking officials. The good news is these acts are increasingly caught on camera so the public can now have a role in demanding accountability by sharing and reposting.

Thanks to Rania for sharing the video on FB.