BEIRUT — Tens of people protested on Monday in Martyrs' Square in Downtown Beirut to commemorate the third anniversary of the Oct. 17 nationwide protests, or thawra (revolution), L'Orient Today's correspondent in the area reported.
As the previous year, the number of protesters today was humble and not comparable with the protests that took place three years ago.
Seventeen-year-old Mohamad who's a Beirut resident appeared to be disappointed with the scale of participation.
"Three years ago, on the first day, we were all together. Since then, people have gone back to their zaims (leaders), to sectarianism," he told L'Orient Today. "It's really sad when you remember the first days," he added.
Maggie Nenedjian, 39, a journalist and humanitarian worker at Dafa NGO which is headed by MP Paula Yacoubian, who is part of the 13 Forces of Change MPs which many see as a product of the Oct. 17 protests, told L'Orient Today that "we have thirteen MPs representing us, I hope we get more in the next election. Thawra is not dead. We don't need to be in the streets to be rebels, we can rebel within society itself."
Regarding the election of a new president as President Michel Aoun's term ends on Oct. 31, Nenedjian told L'Orient Today: "We hope that the new president will be like his people."
Among the protesters was Sali Hafez, who last month held up the Blom Bank branch in Sodeco Square, Achrafieh, armed with a toy gun. She said her actions were intended to help secure funds for her sister, Nancy, who has cancer. Lebanese banks were targeted during the Oct. 17, 2019 nationwide protests after imposing illegal capital controls on most people's deposits, while allegedly allowing billions of dollars to be transferred abroad for very few accounts, including those of senior politicians.
A former detainee who was accused by the military court of being a terrorist, Mohammad al-Bay, a resident of Tripoli, told L'Orient Today that "Lebanon is still divided. The Thawra is not dead. People must take it to the streets for our loved ones."
According to L'Orient Today's reporter, revolutionary chants were blasted through speakers as the demonstrators assembled. A light military and police deployment was also noticed on the ground.
At around 5:30 p.m., the demonstrators observed a minute of silence in memory of the "martyrs of October 17," and are then expected to head toward Parliament, located in the nearby Nejmeh Square, at around 6 p.m.
The same groups have also announced a second demonstration for this Thursday, scheduled to coincide with the country's MPs gathering for a third parliamentary session to elect Lebanon's next president ahead of the approaching Oct.31 deadline, marking the end of President Michel Aoun's term.
On Oct. 17, 2019, unprecedented mass protests broke out in Lebanon, denouncing the ruling political class. Demonstrations throughout the country were ongoing for several months.
Additional reporting by Lyana Alameddine