A group of students, workers and activists have begun a new campaign in Lebanon calling for social justice, equality and a secular and civil state, in the wake of protests that have swept the country over the past week.
The newly formed group have dubbed themselves “The people demand,” an offshoot of the well-known statement “The people demand the fall of the regime,” which resonated through protests in the Arab world since 2011.
A garbage collection crisis triggered the protest movement last week, which demands the resignation of the government, under the slogan “You stink.” The marches have escalated into violent clashes with police forces, resulting in injuries and arrests.
“Our movement, which was sparked by the garbage crisis that literally suffocated us, extended to our various crises that are a product of the regime over the past decades,” the group’s statement read. The campaign called for social, political and economic rights, such as the right to referendum, health insurance, fair wages, and personal status laws that guarantee personal freedoms, among other demands.
“The crisis isn’t a group of separate issues,” the statement read. “It is a regime’s crisis.”
The campaign explicitly attacks the current administration, aiming to kick start a long-term movement that calls for its downfall, given “its corrupt, sectarian institutions and its classist interests.” The group intends to cooperate with different movements that share its vision.
The movement outlined five main demands, which include the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested, as well as an end to the crackdown on protesters, the prosecution of security and military forces involved in the violence against protesters, the sacking of the environment minister, the prosecution of those involved in the garbage crisis and the scheduling of parliamentary elections.