[News] General Strike in Lebanon

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 23 08:52:08 EST 2007


Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 22:33:17 -0800 (PST)
From: Rayan Elamine <elamine1 at yahoo.com>



A showdown with the government has started with a general strike and 
direct action.  The tactics will look more like Seattle exception at 
least half of the population of the country will be in support, 
despite all this it will be a tough fight to bring down the western 
backed government.

"Sources told ...The Daily Star to expect anything "from tire burning 
to chains of human shields to women sitting in the middle of the 
roads." Other sources told The Daily Star that the opposition had 
collected more than 5,000 tires in Sidon and placed them in a 
football pitch located 12 kilometers away from the city.The 
spokesperson said the FPM will avoid friction with security forces 
and will "tactically withdraw" when security forces come to reopen 
closed roads, moving elsewhere to block other roads - almost in a 
"cat and mouse" chase"

[]

Copyright (c) 2007 The Daily Star

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Siniora Cabinet girds for rough ride as opposition launches general strike
Protesters ready to play 'cat and mouse' with security forces
By Rym Ghazal
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: As the Hizbullah-led opposition forces move on Tuesday 
to  launch a general strike that promises to paralyze the country, 
officials within the ruling parliamentary majority have urged 
Lebanese to ignore the calls for a work stoppage. After almost two 
months of an opposition sit-in in the heart of the capital aimed at 
bringing down the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the 
campaign has progressed to ambitions of paralyzing the periphery of 
the capital and the rest of the country.

However, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Monday 
that "we will not raise arms against anyone."
Speaking during an Ashoura ceremony in Beirut's southern suburbs, 
Nasrallah reiterated earlier pledges that "if they kill 1,000 of us, 
we will not use our weapons against them."

"They will try to belittle the strike," he predicted, "with the media 
and officials showing open shops as proof that we have failed."

Addressing his supporters, Nasrallah said: "I have faith that you 
will remain disciplined and will avoid any insults and sectarian slogans."

But the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Michel Aoun, warned 
people that "if you have no business being out, then just stay home."

In a news conference on Monday at his residence in Rabieh, Aoun said: 
"There will be people who will instigate riots and try to hamper the 
strike, so stay home and out of harm's reach."

The head of the Internal Security forces, Ashraf Rifi, told The Daily 
Star there is "100 percent" cooperation between the army and the 
police on "keeping the country safe" on Tuesday.

"You will see us everywhere, the ISF and army will be deployed 
throughout Lebanon," he said, promising a presence along major roads 
into Beirut.
"We will protect the right of every Lebanese to strike, and we will 
protect the right of every Lebanese who doesn't want to strike," he 
said, adding: "We will protect the right of the citizen to move around."

The heads of the security forces met with Siniora along with Defense 
Minister Elias Murr and Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa to discuss the 
specifics of the security plan that will be in effect on Tuesday.
"They have been instructed not to use force or fire," Murr told the 
media. "Anyone trying to cause trouble will be arrested and taken to court."

As The Daily Star went to press, the districts of Jezzine, Koura, 
Akkar, Kesrouan, Metn, Zghorta, Bekaa, Zahle, several Southern towns 
and the southern suburbs of Beirut, had all declared their solidarity 
with the strike.

Aoun also dismissed any fears of "Christian strife" and said "the 
strike is about social problems and has nothing to do with religions 
or sects."
"We hear of threats of being made by employers to the employee 
wanting to strike," said Aoun, adding that "the right to strike is a 
right for everyone."
Meanwhile, March 14 leaders called on Lebanese to defy the strike and 
observe "a normal working day."

"While striking and demonstrating is a right protected by the 
Constitution ... it doesn't give the strikers the right to pressure 
and threaten the rest of the country," said a statement released by 
the March 14 Forces after a meeting on Monday.
The March 14 Forces compared the opposition strike to "militia tactics."
"The strike will not achieve its goals, especially the hampering of 
the Paris III conference," said the statement.

Siniora also called on all Lebanese to "ignore the scare-mongering campaign."
Opposition sources said Tuesday will only mark the start of the 
escalation and added that protests could last for days and possibly 
shut down the airport and Beirut's port.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, a member of the March 14 Forces 
camp, called on people "to head to work tomorrow because fateful 
choices for the future of Lebanon are at stake."

Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt insisted that Tuesday would be a 
normal work day and called on the army and security forces to prevent 
any major disruption.
Sources close to the Free Patriotic Movement told The Daily Star to 
expect anything "from tire burning to chains of human shields to 
women sitting in the middle of the roads."

Other sources told The Daily Star that the opposition had collected 
more than 5,000 tires in Sidon and placed them in a football pitch 
located 12 kilometers away from the city. The sources added that 
major roads would be closed in Sidon and Zahrani as of 6 a.m.

"Each area will have its own way of striking and expressing their 
discontent with the government," said Hizbullah MP Amin Cherri.

Cherri said residents of the southern suburbs will hit the old 
airport road, but "not block the airport."

"People will gather and block major roads, and then block off 
institutions," he said.
The FPM released a statement asking supporters to gather in front of 
FPM offices in all parts of the country. An FPM spokesperson told The 
Daily Star that they will start at 7 a.m. Tuesday and move to block 
main highways all over Lebanon.
The spokesperson said the FPM will avoid friction with security 
forces and will "tactically withdraw" when security forces come to 
reopen closed roads, moving elsewhere to block other roads - almost 
in a "cat and mouse" chase.

"People who want to open [their businesses or shops] are free to do 
so we will not force anyone to close against their will," he said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri met with US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman 
on Monday.

"The United States is not interested in imposing solutions," Feltman 
told the media after the meeting.

"We sincerely hope the door is still open to the Arab mediation that 
showed such promise in bringing the Lebanese together," he said.

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