"The total number of people arrested now tops 100, it's madness," said Nizar Saghieh, who heads the Legal Agenda non-government organization, after two nights of demonstrations that turned violent in Beirut.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, police violently repressed the demonstrators throwing tear gas, hitting them with batons and arresting dozens as protesters lit fires and smashed bank premises and ATMs.
The Lebanese Red Cross said a total of 47 people were injured on Wednesday night, 37 of whom were taken to nearby hospitals. The 10 others were treated on the spot.
Security forces injured a Reuters video journalist who was treated in a hospital and released. While Lebanese broadcasters Al Jadeed and MTV said police also injured a cameraman from each of their organizations.
A reminder to Colonel Othman - the ISF/Riot police did not even stop when some were begging them to stop the beating. Whatever you say won't justify the amount of violence used against protestors last night. #Lebanon#LebanonProtestspic.twitter.com/XePY7xhoxG
The newly kindled anger comes after banks imposed tight controls on peoples’ savings, limiting dollar withdrawals and blocking most transfers abroad.
"There is a lot of anger," Alia, a passer-by, told AFP. "You have to go to the bank twice to withdraw just $200."
On the second night protests against the banking system in the country, demonstrators also took their clamors to outside a police station where more than 50 people were still detained following clashes the previous night.
Security forces had released 10 people out of more than 50, according to local media and activists.
“Politicians, Blame Yourselves”
"Politicians, don't blame the people, blame yourselves for this dangerous chaos,'' United Nations envoy to Lebanon Jan Kubis tweeted yesterday.
Since Oct. 17, protesters have been demanding a technocratic government formed by independent experts, non affiliated with traditional political parties to try and find a solution to an economic debacle that has filtered into the financial system, pushing the country into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Prompted by such protests against the ruling elite, on Oct. 29, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned, which led to an even stronger political deadlock for over a six weeks until Dec. 19 when Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced that he had named the former Minister of Education Hassan Diab as the new Prime Minister.
Yet Diab has so far failed to form an emergency government amid political divisions and power struggles. Last week Aoun said Lebanon was currently paying the price for 30 years of wrong financial policies.