This is about the explosion that happened, its context, and how you can help. I know it’s long but bare with me.
Before yesterday, about 3.5km (roughly 2 miles) from the explosion, the floor suddenly began to shake below me and my visiting family. Like others, we thought it was an earthquake. But that wasn’t even the big explosion. Moments later we were blasted. Standing in place the floor beneath me shifted nearly a meter to each side. I was sure the building would collapse as the front door flew off with its hinges. I ran to the balcony to see the explosion site. It was a large nearby explosion, possibly down the street, maybe a political assassination. We were all convinced. It seemed unimaginable that an impact this large might come from kilometers away.
I stepped out and thought I did see the explosion site. Most windows gone, glittering streets, flung metal everywhere, cars seemingly stopped in place, people walking bewildered. From the 6th floor many were visibly bleeding, they seemed to all shuffle in one direction, like zombies, towards the four hospitals just down the road. I ran to see if the building was going to stay in place and the view from there was…
This is 3.5 km away. What happened around me was nothing. The only thing that saved us from flying glass able to injure and kill us were fleeting accidents. So many I know miraculously made it, have seriously damaged houses, are cut and bruised, and three are dead. Most of us are reporting PTSD symptoms, hallucinatory explosions in the sky, being startled by noises and movements. Everyone is crying, furious, catatonic, or in denial. 130+ dead, some still missing, 5000 injured. A chunk of the city erased. The images and videos painfully attest to this.
So for what? And what happened? The devastation in this morally tragic situation is overwhelming and anything I say seems to detract from that point. But I have to write because if I don’t I will be accepting this tragedy’s recurrence. Nothing guarantees that as I speak this eternally failed system of governance and its prescientific, inhuman representatives are not harboring more badly-attended explosives around us.
Here’s this government’s official story: explosive materials, 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate, are being stored on a port right by multiple residential areas. For six years. I don’t find it useful to go past this point, it is already too much. The facts are clear: this government knowingly placed large quantities of highly explosive materials near residential neighborhoods without either informing residents or taking necessary precautions. For a long time when a moment was unacceptable. The videos below reveal that whatever precautions were taken left fire a possibility, left people to get close to the fire, and left it possible for two rounds of massive explosions to go off next to each other. How big is this ‘oversight’?
Assume any context you want. That Lebanon was attacked, had a normal but devastating case of human error, is being subjected to a world conspiracy backed by the devil itself. Not one of these detracts from this government’s responsibility. How do you leave the instrument of your own destruction amidst you without minimally saying something? How do you rationalize putting so much in one place and near the city? What murders are you planning as your people starve?
Now add to this bewildering stupidity this government’s belligerent response. Various countries around the world, including our supposed enemies, have time to offer help before our government even speaks. And what does it say? No resignation. No apology. No sincerity. No pledges. Just the usual mumbling gibberish – shifting responsibility, inventing fabrications. In general, the one thing that has ever distinguished them, talking big while acting small.
So who are these people, and what sort of people are they you ask? Well they’re a group of men who lived a life of ignorance and violence. Their whole unwitting existence revolves around creating fabrications that they believe will justify their suffering. They spend time admiring themselves in mirrors, with many purchased disguises – from Western, Arab, and Lebanese hero outfits, to the religious man’s beard and garb – while carefully but seamlessly skipping over various morally terrible and painfully apparent facts. Facts like what? See my October post below for the extended list. But since our protests on October 17 2019, here is the new list of achievements, responses to being told to wake up and be minimally humane:
1- Failing to provide electricity in the country for the last month. At best 4 hours a day occasionally, in the heart of Beirut. People use private generators if they can. And after all the money spent, mostly foreign, mostly someone else’s hard earned money sent to do good. Only to be pocketed by greedy mobsters sitting on a still non-functional electricity sector.For more:
2- Using increasing aggression, threats, torture, and kidnapping during protests. Thugs, police, and army, sometimes outnumbering protesters. But also directly, like when a politician charges a car full speed into protesters then shoots his way out. People with lost eyes, hospitalizations, severe wounds, and death in more than one instance. A recent incident? https://daraj.com/en/50294/
3- Repeatedly using the police and army to protect and enable the activities of violence instigators sent by traditional political parties to burn tents and beat up protesters. Even today. Even today. See e.g. https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/11/08/lebanon-protect-protesters-attacks
4- Attempting to pass multiple laws and projects by force and despite widespread opposition, removing beneficial law, and failing to pass urgent ones. Recently https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2020/Jul-08/508722-aoun-seeks-repeal-of-merit-based-appointment-law.ashx
5- Protecting rapists while also using sexual violence and shaming as threats by party thugs, police, and army. A sample https://beirut-today.com/2020/02/18/women-twitter-harassment-lebanon/
6- Taking citizens economic hostage by seizing control of personal bank accounts. We cannot pull out our own money, cash a cheque in the bank that issued it, or send money to children studying abroad. At the same time, an open transfer to themselves, as is apparent here https://www.ft.com/content/df234c78-a945-4199-befe-0272259dc755 and in various other incidents.
7- Initiating and propagating an economic system with 3 exchange rates. Officially 1,500 to the dollar, a bank rate of 3,000-4,000/$1, and a widespread unstable blackmarket rate of 7000-10,000/$1. Another way to siphon funds to suit their needs, whatever those are, at the expense of this population. Imagine that, your whole life savings stuck or gone.
8- Meanwhile the inflation means the price of even everyday goods, including food, doubles or quadruples. A salary of $1000 is now $142. With unemployment. With COVID-19. With no electricity.
9- Launching an information war that disperses responsibility, deploys religious propaganda, fabricates pictures, uses threats, deception, paranoia, xenophobia, and the fear of outsiders and difference to confuse a largely underprivileged society (thanks to their educational system) into hesitation and immobility.
10- Soldering gates and placing walls around public areas in downtown in opposition to protests. Like all walls, this is embarrassing for humanity as a whole. Known widely as the Berri-lin wall, you can see a fraction of it here: https://goo.gl/maps/268Y96tH1EL8kM439
11- Appointing a fake ‘technocratic’ ministry as a whitewashed front for foreign eyes, not unlike the sparkling photoshopper’s dream you see if you google ‘Lebanon’. Its distinguishing feature? A more direct approach to begging international donations to sustain its crooks.
12- Repeated insensitivity. Imagine multiple desperation suicides occurring on top of everything else. A suicide in the heart of the capital, with his clean judicial record, a Lebanese flag, and a note with a song’s words “I am not a heretic, but hunger is heresy.” Imagine a government that throws a concert after that without saying a thing, but remains focused enough to erase its own concert’s words “A revolution is born from the womb of sorrows”. Imagine it side by side with the neglect of a 2750 ton container of explosive materials.
I wish it weren’t so but this is a bare-bones picture. The Lebanese people are living under psychological, economic, and physical terrorism. Daily. This is not a country, this is a hostage situation. This explosion is not a tragedy that happened. It was the direct consequence of a system and the individuals enacting it. It’s not that they can’t change, it’s that refuse to even try. As we speak they will try to line their pockets with your donations while leaving the people you want to help to suffer and die. It’s not moral callousness, it’s force of habit.
You want to help us? Don’t donate to any part of the Lebanese government. Nothing, or in kind only if you must. The red cross and many NGOs far from this government work, links below. Don’t believe our government’s lies. They’ll use Syrian refugees, the Palestinian cause, COVID-19, being Arab, Muslim, Christian, history, really whatever they find at their disposal to justify their acts. But we’re no ally to anyone. Anyway, who wants us as allies? We blew up our own population. Ask your government to withdraw any permissions our politicians have to travel to your country. Lock their foreign accounts and issue arrest warrants if you are legally able. At this point these people have to stay here, stand up, and face their population.
No video or image below is mine. And please share if you can, even if in part.
or see others here: https://helplebanon.carrd.co/