Episode
September 3, 2015

Lebanon's 'garbage revolt' takes on government

Can the Lebanese #YouStink protests clean up the country’s streets and politicians?
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Lebanon’s ongoing garbage crisis has resulted in one of the largest anti-government protest movements in the country’s recent history. Under the "You Stink" campaign, Lebanese people of all ages and sects have been coming out for weeks, demonstrating against the government’s failure to resolve a waste crisis that re-emerged mid-July. That was when the country’s largest landfill site closed and mountains of trash began piling up on the streets of the capital, Beirut. While most of the protests have been peaceful, there have been some clashes with security forces that has resulted in hospital admissions for sixty protesters. Two police officers were referred to the Disciplinary Council and six others will face disciplinary measures for the use of excessive force, according to Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

Anger over reeking trash around residential areas quickly evolved into a movement that is challenging the current political system which is seen by many as corrupt and ineffective. It’s also putting pressure on the politicians that have dominated the political scene since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990. The protesters want an environmentally-sound solution to the trash crisis. They also want the resignation of the government and new parliamentary elections. They recently broke into the Environment Ministry and staged a sit-in outside the minister’s office demanding he resign as well.

Lebanon’s struggles with inadequate services and infrastructure are not new. For years, many have been coping with daily electricity outages, water shortages, and poor roads. The country also suffers from a political deadlock that has kept it without a president since May 2014, and parliament has extended its term twice without elections.

The "You Stink" campaign has struck a chord in Lebanese society, generating wide public support. So, with the protesters promising to keep up the pressure, how much change will they actually achieve?

On today's episode, we speak to:

Hussain Abdul-Hussain @hahussain
Washington Bureau Chief for Kuwaiti newspaper 'Alrai'

Joey Ayoub @joeyayoub
Journalist, activist

Jana Nakhal
Student organiser

Rudy Spiridon @rudysp
Protester

What do you think? Leave your views in the comment section below. 

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