Citizens in Lebanon take to the streets to protest dire economic conditions

Peaceful Assembly

On 29th September 2019, hundreds of people took to the streets protesting against dire economic conditions. Initial short-term solutions by the Central Bank were proposed but further austerity measures proposed by the Government made protesters come back to the streets. On 17th October 2019, the government proposed a tax on WhatsApp calls and other messaging services. Although the tax was scrapped, the demonstrations continued as protesters raised further problems such as corruption and poor public services. 

As one participant in the protest noted to the Arab NGO Network for Development: 

"The call for protests was initiated by a group of civil society activists, but the call soon spread and protests grew bigger in Beirut. Collective action was spontaneous and people from different groups and backgrounds gathered in downtown Beirut. Protests were still ongoing till 4-5 am the next day. As protesters tried to advance into the Grand Serail, security forces used violence and tear gas to end the protest". 

According to Human Rights Watch, security forces used excessive force against protesters, including firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowds. During the protest on 18th October hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. 

Other areas in Lebanon witnessed protests, and protesters blocked many roads including Beirut’s southern suburbs, Jdeideh, Khaldeh, Dora, Tripoli, Sidon, Zgharta, Jounieh, Taanayel, Keserwan, Houla, Hermel, al-Beddawi, al-Labweh, al-Dinniyeh, Bhamdoun, Chekka, Riyaq, Nabatieh, Marjeyoun, Barja and Jib Jannine.

As documented by Lebanon Support since the beginning of 2019, over a hundred mobilisations have taken place in Lebanon. A third of these (31 collective actions) were documented in less than two months and are directly linked to demands for access to socio-economic rights.