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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September 22, 2015

The Daily Star - You Stink to press on with protests, September 22, 2015

Pia Francis

Reflecting on its achievements and setbacks, the “You Stink” campaign vowed Monday to press on with street protests until its demands for elections, a redeveloped trash plan and public accountability measures are met. In an evening news conference one day after leading a march from Burj Hammoud to Downtown Beirut, organizers vigorously defended the campaign’s ethos against accusations of partisanship and treachery.

“We were accused of being affiliated with the West, many tried to tarnish our image, and others wanted to take advantage of the movement, but we took to the streets nonetheless,” Ali Slim said, highlighting the milestones over the campaign’s two-month span. He reiterated that they were “not targeting one politician or official, and supporting another,” and insisted on the group’s impartiality.

Activist Imad Bazzi said the movement’s demands remained the same, and included Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk’s resignation, writing off municipalities’ debts, and holding accountable the security forces who attacked protesters which could amount to the dismissal of Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

Other demands include holding parliamentary elections under a new electoral law, and amending Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb’s waste plan.

On Chehayeb’s plan, Bazzi said that “the movement refuses the implementation of unsustainable solutions, and rejects political blackmail aimed at blaming the movement for the ongoing crisis.”

“The government’s plan includes the establishment of landfills, while the people are demanding the closure of dumping areas as they facilitate the proliferation of diseases,” a video on the group’s Facebook page said.

The group also called for holding ministers accountable for mismanaging public funds, as the government admitted to hoarding municipal money from 1995 to 2010. You Stink activist Assaad Thebian said that “the people were able to take the streets without political or external involvement,” and urged citizens “to protest whenever they want, without waiting for the movement.” When asked when they would be holding more demonstrations, he replied: “You’ll see.”

Separately, Lucian Bourjeili, a leading figure in the campaign, filed a complaint with the State Prosecutor’s office over an assault he said was committed against him by security forces during a sit-in at the Environment Ministry earlier this month. LBCI reported that State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud promised Bourjeili to personally follow up on his complaint.

The incident occurred on Sept. 1 when You Stink activists protested inside the Environment Ministry to press for the resignation of Minister Mohammad Machnouk. After an eight-hour sit-in, police forcefully cleared them from the premises. TV footage showed Bourjeili carried out of the ministry by one of his fellow activists after reportedly being attacked by police.

He was admitted to AUBMC for treatment after suffering injuries while resisting security forces’ attempts to clear the ministry of activists.

Bourjeili had previously demanded that the interior and environment ministers review surveillance footage at the site and to address police brutality against protesters.

Judge Nabil Wehbe of the Military Tribunal of Beirut released nine people arrested during the Aug. 22, 23, and 29 demonstrations Monday. One remains in jail. – Additional reporting by Philip Issa

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