Lebanese Army Shoots Civilians At Badawi Camp
Lebanese Army Fires Live Ammunition At Peaceful Protest In Solidarity With Nahr El Bared Refugee Camp
During the second day of a three-day peaceful protest in the Palestinian refugee camp of Badaoui in solidarity with Palestinian refugees from Nahr el Bared, the Lebanese Army opened fire on the protestors in Badawi refugee camp, killing two people and injuring at least 27.
A peaceful protest began within the Badawi Palestinian Refugee Camp in north Lebanon. The protestors had signs reading "Nahr el Bared is in our soul" and "Nahr el Bared, we won't forget you." The protestors were calling for an end to the violence.
Energetic male youth continued the protest outside the camp, against the wishes and attempts of the organizers.
As they proceeded towards the Lebanese army's checkpoint, the army issued verbal warnings telling the protestors to stay away. At this point, women and children raced to the front to try to prevent the army from firing upon the crowd. The Lebanese army shot two warning shots into the air and then immediately responded with machine gun fire at the crowd of approximately 300 peaceful protesters. The army continued firing on people as they were attempting to retrieve the wounded.
A senior official in the Lebanese Army stated that the Army responded in this way to defend itself, and that its response was the minimal response it could have undertaken.
Caoimhe Butterly, an activist and organizer, reported on what she had personally witnessed. "The army first opened fire with 2 to 3 minutes of sustained fire. When there was a lull in the shooting, we rushed in with our hands above our heads. At this stage, the Army started firing on the road again. Thus, people retrieving the wounded were wounded."
In response to the Lebanese Army's claim that a "significant number" of the protestors had clubs, Butterly said, "the protestors did not have clubs.
Nobody had clubs. We saw the whole demonstration. They weren't carrying anything. We went from the beginning to the end of the demonstration. We saw it all, and no one was carrying clubs."
Furthermore, she continued, "the protest was never out of hand. They weren't throwing stones. At the time the Army opened fire, women were sitting on the ground at the front, and a number of people even had their backs to the soldiers. At the time the Army opened fire, people were getting quieter and had stopped shouting, as if shouting is enough to legitimize open fire."
In response to the Lebanese Army's claim that the protestors were 10 meters away from the checkpoint, Butterly said, "We were at a distance where we couldn't distinguish their faces; we could only distinguish their figures. We were possibly at a distance of a few hundred meters, and definitely not 10 meters. We were far away from the checkpoint."
Two civilians were killed, at least 27 wounded, including 9 children below the age of 18 - including one 3-year-old child. Three of the wounded are critically wounded, having been shot above the waist.
The protest was held in a response to the ongoing siege of Nahr al Bared refugee camp. The protest began yesterday by initiating a three-day water-only symbolic hunger strike in solidarity with family and friends in Nahr al Bared who are presently experiencing the hunger, fear and vulnerability of facing a second month under siege. The protest included a silent procession and die-in to highlight the to-date 36 civilian casualties earlier this afternoon and an open mike and opportunity for the press to interview people throughout the day who have recently evacuated Nahr al Bared.
Rania Masri, Ph.D is from the University of Balamand, Lebanon. This is Rania's first article for Scoop. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the opinions of the University of Balamand. You can view more of Rania Masri's work at greenresistance.wordpress.com