Beirut Port Explosion Anniversary Between Sorrow And Rage

After one minute of silence commemorating more than 200 people died in explosion, demonstrators tried to siege Lebanese Parliament.

Rage for demanding truth and justice took the place of sorrow for the victims of the Beirut port blast, during the first anniversary of one of the strongest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded.

One year since the explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, Lebanese took the streets to demand justice. The blast killed 218 people, injured 3.500, and forcibly displaced 300.000. However, one year later,  the investigation has yet to find the truth over this tragedy.

Thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Beirut to reach Beirut port to demand justice during the first anniversary of the explosion. For them, the anniversary is not a day to commemorate the victims of August 4 because every day that goes by without justice is August 4.

On a stage set up for the occasion in front of the port, some victims’ families took the microphone. They told their stories, blamed the political class, and demanded justice. Behind them, torn-apart grain silos stood out as a background for the scene, which became the symbol of the tragedy.

Silence fell upon the crowd at 6:07 pm, when, one year ago, the explosion wiped out hundreds of lives and destroyed a part of the Lebanese capital. Demonstrators who gathered in front of Beirut port held one minute's silence in memory of the victims of the explosion. 

But the sorrow soon stepped aside to let rage become a march to the Lebanese Parliament and Martyrs’ Square. Protesters pulled out marbled stones from the floor of the street that leads to the Parliament. Then, they threw them out against riot police, who, in the meantime, started to shoot gas canisters against protesters to scatter the crowd.

Protesters tried to storm the main multiple times by throwing stones and starting fires. However, riot police responded by firing tear gas from above the buildings. Many protesters were injured during the clash. The Lebanese Red Cross stated that more than 80 people were injured.

Geared with gas masks, some protesters helped those who tried to storm the Parliament’s headquarters because they were heavily affected by tear gas. They sprayed water on their eyes and giving them cut onions, which help alleviate the burning sensation from tear gas.

The scene of the protests was continuously livened up by the deafening bash of stones against metal sheets built to defend the neighboring institutional buildings. Chants against the political class and slogans, such as “Thawra” (Revolution!) were constantly called aloud for spurring protesters to storm the Lebanese Parliament.

Some demonstrators shielded themselves behind metal and wood sheets to throw stones. However, riot police succeeded in scattering the crowd after many attempts just before the evening.

Demonstrators agreed to continue the protest at the Beirut Electric company’s building headquarters in the Gemmayze neighborhood. However, only a part of the protesters reached the location, while others scattered somewhere else and put an end to the day of the anniversary of the Beirut port blast.

All credits: Dario Sabaghi