BEIRUT – Families of the Beirut port explosion victims announced the schedule for the upcoming Aug. 4 protest, which will commemorate the third anniversary of the blast.
Over 220 people were killed, more than 6,500 were wounded and swathes of the capital were damaged after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port.
The gathering will start at the Karantina Fire Brigade in Beirut at 4 p.m., the families announced at a Thursday press conference. Protesters will march toward the Beirut port at 5:15 p.m. The families called protesters to wear black clothes and added that there will be speeches by members of the victims’ families.
The march’s slogan is: ‘For justice and accountability: We persevere.’
The victims' families also called on the Lebanese diaspora to stand in solidarity and organize protests abroad at the same time. They stressed that the goal of the protest is to demonstrate the violation of their constitutional and legal rights, and violations of the judicial process.
“Aug. 4 is not a holiday or a fun day, it is a mourning day. This day concerns all of Lebanon, not just us. This day is for hundreds of thousands of people whose houses were destructed.”
The families also accused the political class of "putting its hands on the judiciary."
William Noun, whose brother Joe Noun was killed in the explosion, asked injured survivors to attend the protest. He acknowledged the more than 6,500 injured people and 300,000 who were rendered homeless by the explosion.
"If half of them participate in the protest, it would be sufficient," he said.
Noun added that the families were able to secure busses to all regions through a private donation. Finally, Noun said: "We are forced to take the streets to demand that the investigations resume."
On July 22, Noun told L’Orient Today that "the international community needs to see that the Lebanese care about this cause so it will continue supporting it."
The victims’ families previously held monthly sit-ins to commemorate their lost ones, but the number of attendees gradually decreased. As part of the port explosion investigation, high-ranking officials are being prosecuted by Judge Tarek Bitar, but have been refusing to appear in court.
Relatives of the victims criticized the slowness of the investigation, which has been frozen since last February due to interference from politicians and judges.