Lebanese police scuffled with protesters in central Beirut on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of a devastating explosion at the city”s port that killed more than 200 people.
The scuffles broke out near the Lebanese parliament headquarters after protesters tried to storm the main building.
A mix of grief over lost lives and rage at the lack of justice for the blast’s victims, aggravated by a severe deterioration in living conditions in Lebanon, pushed protesters onto the streets.
Riot police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons and beating demonstrators with batons.
The Lebanese Red Cross said that more than 80 people had been injured.
A national day of mourning
Banks, businesses and government offices were shut in Beirut as the country marked a national day of mourning on August 4.
Hundreds of families of the victims and survivors gathered in the capital city, cradling pictures of their dead relatives at a memorial service that took place at the exact time of the explosion.
Thousands more gathered nearby at the port, waving Lebanese flags.
Leading the service, Cardinal Bechara Rai, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church, warned more accountability was needed.
“We are here to demand truth and justice. This land will remain a stain until we know what happened at the Beirut port,” he said.
Amnesty International has accused the Lebanese authorities of “brazenly blocking and stalling justice at every turn“, while Human Rights Watch accused them of “criminal negligence“.
Relatives of the victims are calling on authorities to lift the immunity of multiple high-level officials who are accused of negligence on the lead up of one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history — the result of hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate igniting after a fire broke out.
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