Montreal, Canada - March 11, 2004

Violent oppression of peaceful demonstration

Once again, the Lebanese authorities demonstrated an increasing trend toward violently oppressing the the freedom of assembly, the freedom of opinion and expression by using violence against university students peacefully demonstrating inside their campus.

On march 11, 2004, media sources reported that some students were arrested and at least three were violently beaten and hospitalized after the internal security and Lebanese Army forces entered their campus and violently oppressed a demonstration held by more than 200 students at Saint Joseph University (USJ) in Beirut.

The students were demonstrating peacefully to protest against the continuous emigration of young Lebanese, emptying the country of its main young and intellectual power. They were also demanding that the Lebanese government adopts appropriate measures to stop this phenomenon by eliminating corruption and reforming governmental policy: "The policy of the regime, the corruption and the dependence on Syria are at the base of the emigration of the youths".

Lebanese authorities ban any form of demonstration which criticizes government policies, corruption and the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. The authorities have violently oppressed students' demonstrations several times in the past 3 years. This trend appears to continue, and is unhealthy for the weakening democratic institutions of the country.

Such incident constitutes a severe violation of the Lebanese constitution that guarantees the freedom of assembly, opinion and expression, as well as the commitments of Lebanon to its international obligations as per the International Declaration of Human rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights :

Article 7
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

Article 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of _expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

RCPL urges the Canadian Government to condemn this violent act, and inform their counterparts in Lebanon that such occurrences are detrimental to the country’s efforts to recover from the war and to build strong democratic institutions. 

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