Widespread protests are underway throughout Lebanon in a generalized revolt against a corrupt system, mismanaged public services, and a serious economic crisis.
Seemingly a spontaneous response to government plans to levy a tax on free WhatsApp calls, the peoples’ anger has in fact been building for months, if not years. In the face of public pressure, the government cancelled the levy on internet calls, but the protests continue.
A major revolt in 2015 in the urban areas erupted over uncollected garbage. Due to the untreated waste and polluted rivers and seafront, Lebanon has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world. This time, however, the revolt that erupted October 17, 2019, has spread outside the major urban centres into the countryside.
Thirty-two years since an imperialist provoked and guided civil war tore apart this Mediterranean country of six million, the working people of Lebanon are going to the streets in record numbers to demand immediate action and justice. Lacking adequate, affordable access to water, electricity, healthcare, decent housing, education, and even regular garbage collection, Lebanese people are demanding fundamental change and “revolution” and not just a few new faces in a neoliberal government.
Lebanon has a complicated parliamentary system based on confessionalism, in which the highest offices are proportionately reserved for certain religious communities (50% Muslims, 50% Christians), with a limited group of traditional and sectarian politicians dominating the scene.
Elections were held one year ago and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri*, a Sunni Muslim, now heads a fractious coalition government and in which Hezbollah increased its influence. The President is a Maronite Christian and the Speaker of the Parliament, a Shi’a Muslim.
*UPDATE: Lebanon’s PM Saad al-Hariri resigns October 29, 2019
Lebanon occupies a strategic position in West Asia. It borders on Israel to the south, which has invaded Lebanese territory several times, and Syria to the east and north. The country is home to an estimated one million Syrians who have fled the imperialist inspired war in their homeland and an important Palestinian population forced to seek shelter in Lebanon after being forced out of Palestine in 1948.
The ILPS provides its full support to the Lebanese people in their just demands for a decent life, a government that truly represents their interests, and increased political freedoms. ILPS members are invited to join the Lebanese community in organizing solidarity actions in front of the Lebanese consulates and Embassies and other strategic points.
From ILPS contacts on the front lines in Lebanon:
In French: Que s’est-il passé au Liban? (What’s going on in Lebanon?), par Fouad Baker
Also, the Communist Party of Lebanon released the following statements on the revolt (translated from Arabic):
“A call to strengthen our achievements through steadfastness
On the occasion of the government’s resignation on the thirteenth day of the popular uprising, we salute the demonstrators all around the country, who have endured repression, abuse and accusations of treason. What took place on the Ring bridge, Riad El Solh and Martyrs squares today, is the repulsive face of that hegemonic system, its forces, parties and security services. This resignation confirmed that the Lebanese people have the ability to enforce change and to impose their choice, whenever they decide to.
The resignation of the current government was the first demand for which the masses came out to the streets, and must, therefore, be celebrated, for it is a political achievement we have accomplished through the pressures of the intifada. This also requires us to complete that battle by pursuing the confrontation to bring about comprehensive change, through a transitional national government having two primary tasks: to hold early parliamentary elections on the basis of a new electoral law outside the sectarian status, and an economic rescue plan which starts with the recuperation of the looted riches.
Lebanese Communist Party”
“The great uprising of our people that began October 17 is unprecedented in Lebanon. This is a national uprising that has swept the country from north to south, from the Jabal to Beirut and the Bekaa, surpassing sectarian divisions and confessional affiliations.
In this respect, the Lebanese Communist Party salutes the masses of demonstrators, their steadfastness and courage which led to an escalation in the popular confrontation. A confrontation that reflects the will of our people and its movements to reject the hegemony working zealously against the interest of the people, through coercing the poor, the working class, youth and students of Lebanon, to pay the price of this system’s corruption, erroneous policies and dependency.
On the other hand, the political authority confirms its keenness to push things into more tension through its political rhetoric, which seemed to address itself and to negotiate with itself in procrastination while working on renewing the alliances of its parties. It has also used excessive force by the army and security forces against the protesters, suppressing and arresting them. At the same time, the Lebanese political authority refrained from defending the demonstrators from the threats and attacks of the ruling parties’ thugs.
Hence, the Lebanese Communist Party affirms its position to pursue this fight, rejecting all the measures taken by the political authority, rejecting and condemning repression, and calling for the release of all detainees, while stressing for the need of a peaceful movement, preserving public and private property. It also calls for the escalation of confrontation for the causes of the poor, the workers, youth and students in Beirut and the Lebanese regions with steadfastness and solidarity, by continuing to massively take to the streets.
Based on the above-mentioned political priority and the participation of the party in this popular uprising since its inception, the party will remain in its position and will consider this confrontation in Beirut and the regions as the ideal form to commemorate the party’s celebrations for the occasion of the ninety-fifth anniversary of its founding.
There is no salvation without change and no change without confrontation.
Beirut, October 19, 2019
Political Bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party”