The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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July 25, 2011

The Daily Star - Pro- and anti-Assad demonstrators clash in Bir Hassan - July 25, 2011

By Marie Dhumières
A family brandishes Syrian flags at the Hamra protest. Mahmoud Kheir.  -7-24-2011
A family brandishes Syrian flags at the Hamra protest. Mahmoud Kheir. -7-24-2011

BEIRUT: Clashes erupted Sunday between about 200 pro- and anti-Syrian protesters in the Beirut neighborhood of Bir Hassan, after 2,000 people rallied in Hamra in a peaceful demonstration in support of the government in Damascus.
The Lebanese Army intervened to end the fight near the Kuwaiti Embassy and dispersed protesters, who used sticks and stones to attack one another.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 demonstrators gathered Sunday in front of the Syrian Embassy in Beirut’s district of Hamra in a show of support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been facing pro-democracy protests since they began in mid-March.
“Assad will stay president of Syria and his son will be president of Syria,” said Mohammad, 28, a protester in Hamra who declined to give his last name.
Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdel-Karim Ali who spoke to protesters said his country will remain strong and will overcome all difficulties. “Syria will remain committed to resistance and the aspirations of its citizens,” he added.
Ali Hamadi, 23, a Syrian student at Lebanese University, said the current uprising in Syria was a “plot organized by Israel and the West to create a sectarian war between us,” an opinion many in the crowd seemed to share.
“We’re here to tell the American and the French that your projects for the Middle East will fail,” shouted a 29-year-old Syrian, who asked to be identified as Abu Hadair.
Hamadi’s Lebanese friend Ali Zoghbi, 18, said he decided to attend the march because “Bashar helped us [in Lebanon]; we need to return the favor.”
Protesters were carrying a100-meter-long Syrian flag, which they regularly lowered to the ground in order to kiss it.
Others waved Syrian flags, Assad posters and a few Palestinian, Hezbollah, Amal and Syrian Social Nationalist party’s flags could also be seen.
Jamil Rahal, 37, from south Lebanon, said he was born and lived most his life in Syria, and came to support “Mr. President” and Syria, where people from “all religions live together.”
“The people in Syria need the president,” he said, voicing his belief that the pro-democracy protests were organized by Syrian expatriates “who didn’t give [the president] time for change.”
“We have full freedom of expression [in Syria],” said Syrian worker Sleiman Abdallah, 30, who came to the protest with his 4-year-old son and couldn’t see why people were demonstrating in his country.
Protesters chanted “Allah, Syria, Bashar only,” “The people want Bashar al-Assad” and “With our soul and our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar.”
Fatmeh Alo, 21, from Aleppo and one of the few women at the protest, said she would stand with “whatever the president says,” and also said she believed Syrian’s turmoil was organized by “outsiders.”
Abd al-Hadi, who was carrying flags of both Amal and Hezbollah, said he came out in “solidarity” for the Syrian regime. “I’m Lebanese but I love Bashar,” the 18-year-old said.
Ramadan, who is Syrian, said he doesn’t support pro- or anti-Assad protesters. “I don’t want anyone to die, neither the soldiers nor the people,” he said.
“I want reforms but I don’t support regime change,” he added, saying that the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia showed that the “problems always come back.”

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