Sadek, Tawq, and Yaakoub to Janoubia: We Went and Stood Before the Court in Defense of Protestors!

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Today, it seems that political authorities in Lebanon are racing among themselves to impoverish, repress, silence, and even kill the Lebanese people! The ease at which these incidences are occurring is unprecedented in Lebanon’s history. State violence is being abused to suppress freedoms, harm activists, and summon any opposition journalist to the courts.

The era of the Aoun presidency has outdone itself as it transforms Lebanon from a country were freedom and democracy thrived to a police state. The Aoun regime is attempting to recreate the oppression of the Syrian regime mimic it by silencing opposition and crushing freedoms. Those who defend the anguished masses and call for truth to be revealed are the first to be accused and questioned while those directly responsible for causing harm remain free and unquestioned.

Read more: Lebanon: A Tumultuous Entry into of the Second Centenary

Yesterday, September 15, 2020, media personalities Dima Sadek and Riad Tawq as well as activist Farouk Yaakoub appeared before the court following a complaint filed against them and MTV by Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri. The complaint accused them of slander, inciting hatred, and spreading false news. This came in light of an episode of “B’ism Al-Shaab” (In the name of the People) aired on the 19th of August. In that episode, the guests spoke about the suppression of freedoms and criticized the parliamentary police, who “Intentionally fired rubber bullets and other projectiles at peaceful demonstrators who were protesting the Beirut explosions”, calling them “Thugs”.

The Palace of Justice witnessed a mass sit-in by political figures, media personalities, and human rights activists during the time the interrogation was taking place taking place with Sadek, Tawq, and Yaakoub. The sit-in aimed to display solidarity with the accused and rejected the blatant suppression of freedoms. Following their interrogation, the three asserted that the battle is about more than just freedoms. They restated the importance of apprehending those who shot at the peaceful demonstrators. In addition, they requested direct testimony by the Speaker Nabih Berri.

Sadek: This Presidency rose at the expense of the laws and the constitution, and It’s only natural that we see it defy these concepts!

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Speaking to Janoubia, Dima Sadek commented by saying: “It’s surprising to see that following a documented criminal act of shooting at demonstrators, which caused several eye injuries among them, none of those committing the shooting were summoned or interrogated at all. All that despite knowing them and having video evidence. On the other hand, those who questioned the incidents and demanded accountability were the first to be summoned.” Sadek also noted that the three of them refused all charges made against them during the interrogations.

To that, Sadek urged that: “Berri should at least be summoned as a witness. In order to find out who gave the orders to target the demonstrators.” She stressed that: “This Presidency has completely crossed the line! It’s not just about suppression of freedoms but also the circumventing of all legal and constitutional standards… This Presidency was built at the expense of laws and the constitution, and It’s only natural that we see it defy these concepts!”

Tawq: We will continue this fight till the end

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As for Riad Tawq, he told Janoubia that: “The suppression of freedoms has become a mere detail in the bigger picture, our demands have become so much less than the respect of our freedoms. At this point, we don’t mind having our freedoms suppressed so long as they do not kill demonstrators or take their eyes out.” Tawq also criticized that the three of them were summoned to the General Prosecutors Office instead of the Publications Court! “We demanded accountability for those who fired at the demonstrators and took their eyes, but instead we were the ones under investigation and interrogation!” Tawq lamented.

Stressing that he will not back down from any statement he has made, Tawq said reassuringly: “We will continue this fight till the end. We will continue going after those who intentionally committed these premeditated actions to harm the demonstrators!” adding: “It is not by coincidence that 9 people lost their eyes that day. The bullets were aimed at their heads, and they were intended to severely hurt demonstrators who were protesting and calling for the truth regarding the August 4th Beirut Port explosions.”  

“Today they want to point fingers against us because we demanded retribution for the deprived demonstrators”. Tawq concluded by saying: “We want to end injustice against the demonstrators, and we as media professionals are not victims and we reject being as such.”

Yaakoub: We have a right to find out who took the decision to harm the demonstrators and take out their eyes

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In turn, activist Farouk Yaakoub told Janoubia that: “This matter should be treated differently than it is right now. The accused ought to be under investigation, not those who questioned the ones in uniform who shot at unarmed citizens… Of course, we have to wait for the results of the investigation, as we shouldn’t make prejudiced claims. However, the questions raised against those who caused physical harm to the demonstrators remain legitimate.” Yaacoub noted that: “The shootings against the demonstrators are not a small detail albeit rubber bullets. What happened was not coincidental. There was a decision taken by someone to shoot at the heald-level and deter them. That is the essence of the problem. We have a right to know who that was!” asserted Yaakoub.

“When you have someone today in a position of authority at the level of the Parliament, and they have an armed militia under their command; we have a right to question that! Why is accountability considered offensive to these people? Why are some officials given attributes of divinity and are completely untouchable?” On the suppression of freedoms, Yaakoub said: “We still haven’t gotten rid of the outdated methods we thought the old regime took on their way out. Some have yet to learn from what happens to these tyrannical regimes that ultimately lost after they destroyed their own people.”

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