On sunday August 30, 2015 a protest in solidarity with the Lebanese #YouStink movement was held in Montreal in front of city hall. 99%Media photojournalists, livestreamer and journalist where on location to cover the event. Solidarity protests were held in cities across the world where the expatriate Lebanese community came out to voice their discontent with the situation in Lebanon. It is rare that the Lebanese people break the sectarian mold and agree on something, but these protesters came together for a unifying non-sectarian cause that began in Beirut.
In our previous article 99%Media journalists in Lebanon collaborated with their colleagues in Montreal to explain the reasons behind the #YouStink movement. In essence, the movement was triggered beacuse of the growing garbage situation in Lebanon where, due to political bickering and shortsightedness, garbage was no longer being picked and had been piling up on the streets for weeks. This was, as they would say, the straw that broke the camel’s back. In a rarity for a country that is divided across 18 confessional, and numerous more intra-confessional lines, the people came out and lashed their frustration at all the Lebanese politicians… without exception. In Montreal this show of unity of the people was equally present as the protesters echoed the same non-sectarian demands as their sisters and brother in Lebanon.
Mathieu D’Amours, a journalist for The Link and a member of 99%Media conducted interviews with the protesters
The #YouStink movement held a massive rally last saturday, downtown beirut was flooded with people who came out to insist on their demands, which were published in a manifesto a few days earlier. They had to scale down their demands and be more pragmatic in their approach, but they gave the authorities 72 hours to respond to these demands.
a) All those who have given orders to fire at unarmed citizens or those who actually opened fire at the people should be held accountable including the Minister of Interior Nouhad El-Machnouk;
b) The Minister of Environment Muhammad El-Machnouk should submit his resignation for failing to uphold his duty in averting the garbage crisis or finding a solution for it. And we must be informed of the proceedings of investigations of the Financial Attorney General.
c) The municipalities should receive their funding from an independent municipal fund and not only a decree that will remain ink on paper.
d) Urgent parliamentary elections should be held.
After the protests on saturday, the political leaders attempted to placate the protesters with words of sympathy and understanding but at the same time rejecting the resignation of cabinet members. Their response has been described as an attempt to placate the protesters while insisting on the status quo, in terms regarding their the preservation of their position of power, citing the « stability » of the Lebanese nation as an excuse for them to maintain their grip on exactly what the protesters would like to seem them let go of. That sentiment was echoed by the people in Montreal protesting in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Lebanon.
What will happen next? For certain the Lebanese #YouStink protesters are not happy and they are very likely to call for more protests. Whether or not more protests will bring the kind of change #Youstink protesters aspire for Lebanon is a complicated question to answer. At the very least the people are for once united for a common cause, and for once they are lashing out at all the political elite, without exception or consideration to their own political and sectarian leanings.
The protest was also livestreamed by 99%Media member Rick Cognyl Fournier. The archive of the livestream can be viewed below.