Police fire tear gas at armed forces retirees protesting salaries
Security forces fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse hundreds of protesters, mainly retired soldiers, who tried to break through the fence leading to the Grand Serail in downtown Beirut.
Retired members of the armed forces protested their low salaries at Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square. They rallied earlier Wednesday in front of Parliament as joint parliamentary committees convened to discuss the financial situation in the country.
The retirees protested their salaries that have become too low to cover basic expenses.
“My monthly salary is $40. How can I survive,” screamed a retired army officer.
The retired soldiers demanding better pay clashed with riot police and troops. Several people suffered breathing problems from the tear gas. The protesters hurled stones at the officers protecting the government headquarters and repeatedly tried to break through the fence.
A delegation from the protesting retired soldiers around noon managed to meet with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, but said it failed to agree with him on solutions, threatening to escalate the protests when cabinet convenes on Monday.
The retirees asked change MP Paula Yacoubian, lawyer Wassef al-Harakeh and other activists who joined the protest to leave, as they wanted only ex members of the armed forces to participate.
Former MP and former brigadier general Chamel Roukoz joined the protest.
"It's a shame that soldiers are firing tear gas at retired soldiers," Roukoz said, stressing that the protests should go on until the retirees' demands are met.
All public sector employees, including the members of the armed forces, get paid in Lebanese pounds, while grocery stores and other businesses are now pricing their goods in dollars.
The Lebanese pound lost more than 15% of its value on Tuesday alone, tanking to more than 140,000 pounds to the dollar, and angry protesters briefly closed roads in different parts of the country, including the main north-south highway, as well as others in Beirut and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
The currency regained some of its value selling for 110,000 pounds to the dollar later on Tuesday, after a central bank statement.
Protestors also rallied Wednesday on Baalbek's road, and fishermen blocked roads in Jnah, to protest the dire living conditions, while public administration employees demanded salary adjustments in a protest in front of the Ministry of Finance in Beshara el-Khoury in Beirut.
@The protesters hurled stones at the officers protecting the government headquarters
Somehow, somewhere at anytime now, the protesters shall hurl bullets at the officers protecting the government buildings and we will enter a whole new hellish chapter in Lebanese history!