Detainees involved in demonstrations against the Covid-19 lockdown have disappeared been allegedly tortured to death.
CAPE TOWN, March 30 (ANA) – Lebanon’s military intelligence has “forcibly disappeared and reportedly tortured” citizens who protested in Tripoli’s northern city against Covid-19 lockdown conditions and the declining economy, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
“Lebanese authorities should address the legitimate grievances of people in Tripoli, but instead, they’ve escalated repression against a population fighting for a dignified life,” Human Rights Watch researcher, Aya Majzoub, said.
A study published on Tuesday confirmed that people were arrested during demonstrations and were found to have been tortured, facing “unsubstantiated terrorism charges” in military courts, which international law does not have jurisdiction over them.
Human Rights Watch said that Lebanon’s military prosecutor on February 22, 2021, charged at least 35 people, including two children, with terrorism, forming criminal associations, and stealing public property during protests in the northern city of Tripoli in the last week of January.
“The defendants also face other charges, including using force against and trying to kill members of the security forces, arson, vandalism, and protesting without permission,” Human Rights Watch said.
According to the Middle East Eye, protests have erupted in Tripoli, as growing dissatisfaction with the country’s dire economic situation prompted hundreds of civilians to take to the streets.
In a nation that imports more than 80 percent of its basic needs, banks have placed restrictions on bank accounts, and the central bank’s foreign reserves are diminishing.
Residents are worried that the lockdown would be a death blow to their businesses – after grocery stores, pharmacies, and petrol stations closed as the Lira dropped to 10,000 against the US dollar.
The financial crisis that began in 2019 has pushed nearly half of the country’s six million people into poverty, destroyed employment and savings, and reduced consumer buying power.
Lebanon is also currently home to 1.7 million Syrian refugees and has the world’s highest per capita Syrian refugee population.
Between 2014 and 2021, 26 Syrian refugees, including four children, were detained in Lebanon on terrorism-related charges, according to a study released on Tuesday.
According to the study, published on March 23, by Amnesty International named: “I wish I would die” hundreds of Syrian refugees have been detained in Lebanon since 2011.
“Detainees said they faced some of the same torture techniques routinely used in Syrian prisons,” Amnesty International said.
Detainees said they were battered with metal sticks, electric cords, and plastic pipes and that they were hanged upside down or pushed into stressful positions for long periods of time.
“This report offers a snapshot of the Lebanese authorities’ cruel, abusive and discriminatory treatment of Syrian refugees detained on suspicion of terrorism-related charges,” said Marie Forestier, Researcher on Refugee and Migrants Rights at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International said it recognised that “members of armed organisations” must be kept responsible but cautioned against flagrant abuses against those detained arbitrarily.
– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Devereaux Morkel
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