Lebanese demand justice on the anniversary of the port bombing Reuters


© Reuters. On August 4, 2021, in Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanon commemorates the first anniversary of the Beirut port explosion. This view shows the granary that was damaged in the Beirut port explosion last year. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir


Beirut (Reuters)-Lebanon’s leading Christian clergy stated that the catastrophic Beirut port bombing was not immune to prosecution. Officials are evading investigations as many Lebanese commemorate the first anniversary by demanding justice.

Due to the severe economic collapse in Lebanon, Patriarch Marlon Bechara Boutros Al-Rai also criticized the ruling class for failing to respond to the crisis-Western powers responded to this criticism at the Paris donor conference.

One year after the explosion, no high-ranking officials were held accountable due to the large amount of ammonium nitrate stored in the port for a long time, which angered many Lebanese.

This is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. The explosion killed more than 200 people and injured thousands of people. The earthquake was felt in Cyprus more than 240 kilometers (150 miles) away.

Thousands of people gathered near the port, many of them holding pictures of the dead and waving the Lebanese flag.

When a memorial service was held in the port, the protesters who threw stones at the security forces near the parliament fired water cannons and tear gas. The Red Cross said eight people were injured.

The investigation is stalling, and requests from senior politicians and former officials to cancel the immunity are denied. All those who sought interrogation by Lebanese investigators denied any wrongdoing.

The chemicals arrived on a Russian chartered cargo ship that made an unscheduled call in Beirut in 2013. An FBI report seen by Reuters last week estimated that about 552 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, far below the 2,754 tons that arrived.

“It is shameful for officials to evade investigation under the cover of immunity,” Lebanon’s most senior Christian clergyman, al-Rai, said at a mass in the port.

“All immunities fall in the blood of the victims, and there is no justice for immunity.”

“We want to know who brought explosives…, who allowed the unloading and storage of explosives, who removed a large amount of explosives and where they were sent.”

French President Macron stated that the Lebanese leader owes the people the truth.

In most parts of the capital, damage is still visible, especially in the most severely affected area of ​​East Beirut, which is predominantly Christian. The port is like a bomb point, and its huge granary has not been repaired.

The huge banner on the building overlooking the port read: “Hostage of a vicious country.”

The relatives of the deceased were clutching photos of their loved ones.

Military helicopters flew overhead, emitting red and green smoke-this is the national color-at the beginning of the ceremony, reciting the Quran and the names of the victims.

“We will never forget, and we will never forgive them. If they cannot hold them accountable, we will do it ourselves,” said Hiyam al-Bikai, wearing black clothes and holding a picture of her son Ahmed in her hand. De’s photo, he was killed when a stone fell on his car.

“Historical and Moral Failure”

A report released this week by Human Rights Watch concluded that there is evidence that some Lebanese officials know and tacitly accept the lethal risk of ammonium nitrate.

Reuters reported in August last year that both Prime Minister Hassan Diab and President Michel Aoun were warned in July last year that these chemicals pose a security risk and could destroy the capital if they explode.

Aoun said that if necessary, he is prepared to testify and support a fair investigation.

Diab, who resigned after the explosion, said his conscience was clear.

The Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Audi said in a prayer at a hospital that was severely damaged in the explosion that no one can be above the law. “Anyone who obstructs justice is a criminal, even if They are in a high position.”

At the time of the explosion, the Lebanese were already facing deeper and deeper difficulties due to the financial crisis caused by decades of national corruption and waste.

Last year, despite increased poverty and exhaustion of medicines and fuel, the ruling elites failed to establish a new cabinet to start responding to the crisis, and the crisis continued to worsen.

A donor conference hosted by France raised $370 million. The French leader West put pressure on the Lebanese leader to implement reforms, but to no avail. Macron said: “Lebanese leaders seem to be betting on a strategy of delay. I regret this. I think this is a historic and moral failure.”

Pope Francis hopes Macron will succeed and said that donors should help Lebanon “on the road to recovery.” He said that he was very eager to visit Lebanon, where many people “even lost the illusion of life.”

The country did not adopt reform measures that could ease the economic crisis, and the sectarian elites were caught up in a power struggle for cabinet positions.

A security source said that as the crowd gathered in Beirut, two people were injured in a scuffle between supporters of rival parties in the nearby Gemmayzeh area. Gunshots were shot into the air.

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