Gulf European Centre for Human Rights
GECHR urges the Lebanese authorities to respect international law and avoid the use of violence against demonstrators
20th October 2019
According to human rights organisations, at least one person was killed in Lebanon in the city of Tripoli by security forces, and at least 50 people were reported to have been severely injured in different parts of the country and about 20 people have been arrested.
The unrest came on Thursday (October 17th) after Lebanese protesters criticized corruption and the country's economic situation and urged the Lebanese government to resign or end the current situation, which is causing many citizens to live in an economic crisis. Therefore, at least one protester – in Tripoli – was killed and several wounded in clashes between security forces and militia members such as Hezbollah and Amal against peaceful demonstrators angry at unemployment, corruption, poor public services, and Iranian interference in the country.
According to reliable sources from human rights organisations, the demonstrations began in Beirut and then spread to several cities, including the southern regions of the country such as the city of Sor and north part of the country such as the city of Tripoli. Security forces and Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah and Amal were deployed in the capital and other places in the south of the country when peaceful protests erupted demanding an end to poor service delivery and economic, security and political failures in the country, including corruption.
The protesters tried to go to the city centre to continue the protest against the government, but security forces, as well as some militia members, prevented people from reaching the city centre, causing protesters to denounce against the president, parliament speaker, Hezbollah leader, and even the prime minister and other political figures. The European Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes that security forces and militias such as Hezbollah and Amal must avoid the use of pressure and violence against demonstrators because it will violate international law.
The GECHR notes that protests in every country in the world, including Lebanon, play an important role in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of all societies. Thus, international law applies to everyone who has the right to associate with others and to protest in order to achieve a common goal for the country. Article 11 is also fundamental to the preservation of human freedom and allows citizens to peacefully protest, join unions and hold accountable the powerful.
International human rights treaties and conventions have guaranteed the right of citizens to protest since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which is a major source of legislation. Article 20 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association”. Article 21 of the ICCPR states that "States must recognise and guarantee the right to peaceful assembly."
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.
The Gulf European Centre for Human Rights urges the Lebanese authorities not to use violence against demonstrators and calls on the Lebanese authorities to submit all demands of the people, including ending the Iranian role in the country, combating corruption, ending the role of militias such as Hezbollah and Amal, releasing all detainees and providing more opportunities for life and economic opportunities in the country.
The European Gulf Centre for Human Rights declares that the death of a protester in Tripoli and the injury of other citizens is a crime, and therefore calls for the investigation of this event. The GECHR also holds that the safety of citizens is the responsibility of the government. The centre also notes that the use of force against demonstrators violates international human rights law. It is noteworthy that putting pressure on peaceful demonstrators and killing people as happened in Iraq is a violation of international law and is a war crime. Consequently, the Lebanese authorities should avoid using pressure and violence against the people, so the authorities must agree to all demands, including the resignation of some figures in the government.