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Conflict Incident Report
Families of Lebanese inmates rally for general amnesty
Families from across Lebanon gathered in Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square to push for a general amnesty for prisoners.
Lawyer Salah al-Moukadem, from the northern city of Tripoli, read a statement, saying that "most" of the imprisoned are "innocent."
A general amnesty request must be put forward by the Interior and Justice Ministers, and would require the approval of President Michel Aoun, who has the authority to accept or reject the proposal.
"Most of our youth were abused and exploited in the absence of a state," Moukadem said. "They did what they did in order to earn a living."
He added that many have spent years in prison without trial, and called for the state to guarantee humane treatment of prisoners.
“We are asking the state to turn a new page,” he said in response. “Any person who shoots a bullet, even if they shot a bullet into the air during a wedding is arrested on terrorist charges.”
In Tripoli, locals routinely block roads to demand an amnesty for those imprisoned for taking part in clashes that shook the city in 2013 and 2014.
The issue of the detained Islamists has been at the center of controversy for some time, leading to weekly demonstrations by families of detained inmates.
The detainees are accused of a variety of crimes, ranging from drug-related offenses to terrorism charges. However, their families say many are not properly notified of outstanding warrants and many of those who have been arrested wait years for their cases to be heard.
In Sidon, supporters of radical preacher Ahmad al-Assir rally every Friday after prayers to demand an amnesty for family members charged with terrorism over their involvement in the Abra clashes.
Assir and his supporters waged a three-day battle against the Lebanese Army in Abra, east of Sidon, in 2013.
The fighting left 18 soldiers and approximately 40 militants dead. A number of prisoners arrested over the incident are still being held awaiting trial.
A number of prisoners have been held without a trial.
A protester from Hermel who identified herself as a member of the Jaafar clan also blamed economic woes for the security chaos.
“We plant potatoes, they [the state] choose to import them from Egypt, and when we plant apples, they don’t want them,” she told Al-Jadeed. “Let us legalize hashish.”
“If someone gets fined for speeding, and they don’t pay it on time, they increase the fine to unaffordable amounts or increase the severity of the crime,” she added. “That person should be tried fairly too.”
“We don’t support terrorism or the murder of soldiers,” she said. “We ask the President [Michel Aoun], [Army Commander] Joseph Aoun, and [Speaker Nabih] Berri to please forgive us, as God is forgiving.”