BEIRUT: The “Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression in Lebanon” was launched by 14 national and international organizations as government authorities’ wage “a campaign of repression” against journalists and activists.
The press conference took place at Antwork Hamra and had two main guest speakers who shared their experience of being summoned for interrogation by the authorities for “defamation charges” after speaking up against corruption and the “government’s significant failings.”
Bachir Abu Zeid, Editor-in-Chief of October 17 Newspaper that kick started during the revolution insisted that he felt that there was a “great need for independent journalism that is not funded by political parties or their supporters to portray to the audience and to the readers the true image of what was happening on the street during the revolution.”
After the 4th edition of the October 17 Newspaper Abou Zeid and his team were no longer able to continue launching after they were specifically barred from withdrawing cash from the bank, that was donated to the newspaper by several members of the Lebanese diaspora.
Al Jadeed TV channel’s reporter, Adam Chamseddine spoke of his experience of being summoned to the military court for criticizing the security apparatus of the state.
Chamseddine’s case was closed after journalists, activists, and citizens launched an online media campaign attacking the government for restricting freedom of speech in the country.
He noted that he was lucky since he’s a public figure and his case was picked up quickly by the public opinion.
“Lebanon is a tiny country and its population is small. Let’s make every activists case our case and keep sharing it and speaking out for until the authorities have no option but to surrender and stop trying to crackdown on those who criticize its grave failures,” Chamseddine concluded.
From a legal perspective Layal Bahnam, lawyer at Maharat Foundation, stated that as long as “Lebanon does not have laws that protect those who dare to expose corruption we will remain in our current turmoil.”
Vanessa Bassil founder and CEO of the Media Association for Peace, one of the local organizations that launched the coalition, told Annahar that “the more Freedom of Expression is violated the more threatened the society’s stability and cohesion will be.”
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