BEIRUT — William Noun, brother of Joe Noun, a firefighter killed in the 2020 Beirut port explosion, told L’Orient Today Saturday that he is calling on Lebanese and expats vacationing in Lebanon to participate in a protest planned f0r August 4 to mark the third anniversary of the catastrophe and to demand justice for its victims.
“The international community needs to see that the Lebanese care about this cause, so it will continue supporting it,” Noun said.
“People trust us more because they have seen real change and advances in the quest for justice for the victims. We pushed the international community to take action and bring justice to the victims of the explosion and action was taken against Savaro Ltd., so we are expecting heavy participation this year,” Noun told L’Orient Today.
In February, London's High Court of Justice issued a verdict holding chemical trading company Savaro Ltd. liable to the victims of the Beirut port blast. Savaro Ltd was said to have purchased the cargo of ammonium nitrate in Georgia that caused the deadly explosion.
Over 220 people were killed, more than 6.500 wounded and swathes of the capital were damaged after the explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port.
In June, UK judge Roger Eastman ordered Savaro Ltd. to pay over $1 million to relatives of Aug. 4 victims.
“We are only asking for a few hours on that day (Aug. 4) so we’d have the motivation to continue our fight the rest of the year,” Noun explained.
'Still strong despite the circumstances'
In June, Noun, along with Peter Bou Saab who also lost a brother in the explosion, was summoned by the public prosecutor of the Beirut Court of Appeal, Ziad Abi Haidar, after burning tires during a demonstration outside the Beirut courthouse earlier that month.
They were later released after “pledging to stop committing acts of vandalism.”
Noun insists however that their motivation is still strong, despite the circumstances, because they have known since the beginning that their fight will not be easy or easily won. It “will be slow and effective,” Noun said. “We are not in a rush.”
“We will meet on August 4 at 3:30 p.m. in Karantina near the firefighting barracks and head to the port,” Noun said, reiterating that he is expecting “a heavy participation from citizens.”
Victims families also hold monthly vigils to commemorate their lost loved ones, but the numbers at these sit-ins have dwindled with time.
In March 2020, Noun and Bou Saab were summoned and released by State Security for tagging slogans at the residence of caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury.
Several high-ranking political and security officials are being prosecuted as part of the investigation into the port explosion but they refuse to appear before Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the investigation.
Relatives of blast victims regularly criticize the lack of progress in the investigation, which has been frozen since last February and is facing interference from politicians and judges.