POLICY Statement

August 14, 2020: ATFL Statement on Violence against Demonstrators in Beirut 

August 14, 2020

Washington, DC, August 14, 2020 (ATFL) - The American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL) is concerned by reports of injuries sustained by demonstrators in Beirut during clashes with Lebanese security forces. We note that Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Joseph Aoun reiterated his commitment that the military will protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to peacefully demonstrate. 
In light of recent legislation granting broad powers under a state of emergency to the army, the ATFL reiterates its long-standing call for the LAF to act in the best interests of the country by showing good judgement in the exercise of these powers. The ATFL is also concerned that civilians not be tried in military courts under the emergency decree without transparency, due process, and representation for the accused.

In these most challenging times, we believe that all stakeholders in the future of Lebanon must immediately begin serious national dialogues on how to repair the extensive damage caused by the blast, initiate desperately-needed economic reforms, and gradually create a new political foundation for the country, free from corruption and sectarianism. This starts with protecting basic freedoms, including freedom of assembly and expression. ATFL strongly supports the human and civil rights of the Lebanese people to call for leadership and policies that respond to the peoples’ needs.

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