The green of Lebanon’s cedar trees grew its way to Emma Miller Place in Roma Street on Saturday 26 October in support of the recent protests overseas. Like a party with purpose under the sun, the Lebanese sure know the one, two, three on how to throw a protest that catches the eye, reaches passerbys’ ears and sounds a little like freedom.
A large group of Brisbane’s passionate Lebanese in the diaspora and other supporters brought with them their hearts, their flags and their voices, to echo Lebanon’s chants and support their demands for change.
One of the protest organisers in Brisbane, Richard Khouri said the the protest’s aim was support and pressure. “The purpose is to show our support to our brothers and sisters in Lebanon who are fighting for a better life,” he said. “The more protests around the world, the more their voices are heard in Lebanon and the more pressure, the government has to take action.”
The people of Lebanon have taken the streets since Thursday October 17, to protest against the collapsing economy and the lack of efforts to improve it, amongst other deeply rooted issues. Triggered by a proposed tax on WhatsApp, to which the people responded “enough is enough”, the revolution began and the list of demands were made clear. Legal investigation of politicians, mandatory elections before the end of the year, free speech and functioning electricity 24/7 were amongst the unified crowd’s requests.
What stands out most about the protests, other than the diversity, passion, music and dabke, is how peaceful they’ve been. Thankfully the government has not responded with violence, but rather, some government officials have already resigned. Just five days into the protests, an emergency economic reform package was also approved. But the people have vowed to continue the revolution until they see real tangible change.
“We’re here to show support for the Lebanese people and to attract the attention of governments and communities globally” a Brisbane protest speaker said. “We don’t want them to get involved though because we don’t want it to escalate into something violent, so let the Lebanese people do what they’re doing.”
Other than putting pressure on the government, what do supporting protests like the one in Brisbane and around the world do to help achieve these changes? “It’s important to attend rallies like this to show support and encourage our people in Lebanon to keep fighting for their rights and show them that they’re not alone,” said Richard.
The Brisbane rally stood out like a family gathering of red, white and green with homemade posters sharing the Lebanese people’s message. However, it’s clear this protest and the one thousands of kilometers away, is for Lebanese people world wide – the locals, migrants, their children, the refugees and those in between. Give me a Lebanon I can come back to made its way through the energetic wave of the Brisbane protest, instilling charged hope that the revolution will lead to equality and peace in the nation, and light the way for all the returners.
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