Lebanese Activists Call for Massive Demonstration
“You Stink” called for a strike Wednesday to be followed by a demonstration the next day to protest the government’s failed attempts to establish a solution to the trash crisis and political corruption.
“You stink because you [politicians] are killing us slowly with your neglect,” Mariam Keserwani, an activist with the group said during a news conference Monday. “But we refuse to die, refuse to be silenced and refuse to immigrate which is why we have raised this cry.”
The movement called on citizens to abstain from going to work, opening businesses, and sending their children to school Wednesday in an act of defiance against the state’s authority, The Daily Star reported.
“We call on Lebanese citizens who cannot fulfill these steps to wear white instead,” a weary Lucien Bourjeily said. He implored citizens to either wear a white shirt or tie a white band on their shoulder to signal their solidarity with the movement.
He also announced that You Stink activists would be positioned along the entrances of major cities in order to distribute white bands that citizens could place on their cars.
The movement Thursday called for a march from Mathaf toward Ain al-Mreisseh at 5 pm.
They requested that citizens wear white and bring candles. The route of the march will be announced at a later point.
“We are doing this in order to announce as a people that we have departed from the logic of civil war and are heading toward the spaces that unite us,” Bourjeily said.
He also called on citizens to attend even if it rains.
Bourjeily reiterated You Stink’s stance on a number of issues in an effort to dispel rumors and clarify the movement’s objectives.
He insisted that You Stink’s demands have not changed as they are still calling on finding a final solution to the garbage crisis, the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk, the immediate release of municipal funds, establishing sorting plants and sorting waste from the source.
You Stink also urged Cabinet to make decisions and issue decrees necessary to resolve the trash crisis, and described Agricultural Minister Akram Chehayeb’s plan as “only ink on paper.” They also called for parliamentary elections.
Chehayeb’s plan entails the establishment of a sanitary landfill in north Lebanon and in the Bekaa Valley. The Naameh landfill would open for seven days. Municipalities should be ready to manage their waste within 18 months. Increase support for robust waste recycling initiatives would also be provided by the state as part of the plan.
The plan was rejected by the local communities where the new landfills were suggested and some even forcibly denied the entry of garbage trucks into the proposed landfills.
Environmentalists also critiqued the use of landfills and the citizens of Naameh refused to reopen the landfill for even a day.
Bourjeily dismissed any claims that You Stink is intentionally confronting Internal Security Forces personnel whom he described as “our brothers and our family.”
Yet he also called for the arrest of ISF members who had shot at peaceful demonstrators during an Aug. 22 protest.