BEIRUT — Hundreds of army retirees protested in downtown Beirut Thursday morning demanding increased pensions amid Lebanon's spiraling economic crisis and depreciated national currency.
Some protesters tried to remove barbed wire outside the Grand Serail in Riad al-Solh Square, later marching toward the Banque du Liban headquarters in the capital's Sanayeh neighborhood.
Some protesters were seen trying to force their way into BDL before being pushed back by the army.
According to live footage from local TV channel LBCI, at least one protester was injured during the scuffles outside BDL.
"We are the ones who built this country...They haven't left us anything," said Mohammad, a retired soldier from Baalbeck who says he served in the military for 28 years.
"We want our rights!" added Fouad Abi Anni, a veteran of 14 years. He said his monthly pension is about LL7 million, an amount that he worries will depreciate further alongside the lira. "That's nothing," Abi Anni said.
In the early afternoon, some demonstrators were allowed to enter the BDL building to express their demands. Others, who had tried to cross the barbed wire earlier, were seen being pepper sprayed by military personnel on the scene.
Surviving on $50 a month
"We demand the rights of retired military. We don't even have the right to access medical care," a former soldier at the protest told L'Orient Today.
"My monthly pension is now worth $50. Does the prime minister accept that a family of four survives on $50 a month?" he added, to the applause of the protesters.
The demonstration Thursday morning comes after a similar protest by army retirees and other groups on March 22, which was met by tear gas fired by security forces.
One protester and a security officer were injured in the March 22 protest, according to AFP.
Lebanon's multi-year economic crisis has seen the lira lose more than 98 percent of its value. Meanwhile, the country has no president or fully empowered cabinet.
Reporting contributed by Mohammad Yassin and Richard Salame