Lebanese demand end to OCCUPATION!

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Lebanese demand end to OCCUPATION!

Postby Liberator » Thu Feb 24, 2005 2:01 pm

http://www.activistchat.com/phpBB2/viewtop...opic.php?t=5223


Tens of thousands of Lebanese protest Syrian occupation

Associated Press

http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.p....n_v.inc

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of their pro-Syrian government in a central Beirut demonstration Monday, marking a week since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's most prominent politician.


As the massive protest _ the largest and loudest since the end of the civil war in 1990 _ coursed through downtown Beirut, there were signals from Syria that it would "soon" withdraw its army from Lebanon in accordance with a 1989 agreement.


In Damascus, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said President Bashar Assad affirmed that Syria would take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement, but it was not clear whether that meant Syria would completely leave Lebanon. Syria has pledged before to honor the Taif agreement and has made only minor withdrawals.


The four-hour Beirut protest passed without violence despite heavy military and police presence.


Beating drums and waving Lebanese flags, those of their own parties and portraits of past leaders assassinated during the 1975-90 civil war, the protesters gathered at the site where Hariri, a former prime minister, was killed Feb. 14 in a massive bomb that the opposition blames on Damascus.


"Syria out!" "We don't want a parliament that acts as a doorkeeper for the Syrians," some yelled, competing with loud insults shouted against Syrian President Bashar Assad.


The protesters wore scarves of red and white _ the colors of Lebanon's flag _ which have become the symbol of the opposition's "independence uprising," described as a peaceful campaign to dislodge the pro-Syrian government and force the Syrian army out of Lebanon. Each demonstrator was also handed a red rose by organizers from student groups and opposition parties.


Some carried banners reading, "Independence," and chanted, "The government of puppets must fall" and "Enough blood, leave us alone."


Gun-toting policemen and army troops in full battle gear stood guard without intervening, blocking roads with metal barriers.


"It is my civic duty as a Lebanese to take part in this uprising," said Youssef Mukhtar, a 47-year-old engineer who was shouting along with the crowd. "Enough bloodshed and disasters. It is the 21st century, and people should be able to govern themselves. The situation has become unbearable and we have to regain our country."


Many held pictures of Hariri and sang patriotic songs as they passed through rows of troops on both sides of the route. Some protesters held a copy of the Quran in one hand and the cross in another hand to signify Muslim-Christian national unity.


The protesters observed a moment of silence at the exact minute Hariri's motorcade was blown up, killing him and 16 other people and wounding more than 100.


The protesters, chanting "All for the Nation," the national anthem, then handed a letter to representatives of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and marched to Hariri's grave outside the Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque at the central Martyrs' Square and sang the national anthem.


"We want the truth," said one speaker who addressed the crowd at the square, which has become a pilgrimage site for anti-Syrian activists.


The Lebanese government, under pressure to find Hariri's assassins, said Sunday it would cooperate with a U.N. investigation team being dispatched but has rejected the idea of international probe taking charge.


Shortly before the protesters reached the grave, the family of the slain leader prayed there before heading to Saudi Arabia for a round of condolences. Hariri, a billionaire Lebanese, made his fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia, where he became a citizen.


Before the demonstration, about 30 opposition lawmakers wearing the white and red scarves stood on the steps of the Parliament building in downtown Beirut to protest an attempt by the legislature to hold a session to discuss law for elections set for April and May. The opposition has said it will refuse to participate in any parliamentary activity before a special session is held to discuss the assassination.

They met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who agreed to their demand and postponed the debate.

"It is shameful that the Parliament meets without debating this horrible act," said Nayla Mouawad, a legislator whose husband, President Rene Mouawad, was killed in a 1989 bomb blast.

Hariri's killing shook Lebanon and sparked an outpouring of sympathy for the man credited with rebuilding the country from the destruction of civil war, cutting across the sectarian divide. His funeral Wednesday turned into mass demonstration against Syria's control of Lebanon.

In Brussels, Belgium, Bush called again on Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.

"The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in an independent, democratic Lebanon," he said, adding that if Syria stays out of Lebanon's spring parliamentary elections, the vote "can be another milestone of liberty."




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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" -J.F.K
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