Brussels (Brussels Morning) Amnesty International called on France to stop all weapons sales to Lebanon on Thursday, claiming that French-manufactured rubber bullets, tear gas grenades and launchers had been used to quell peaceful demonstrations in the country, AFP reported.
According to the international rights group, the Lebanese government’s violent crack-down on the widespread anti-government protest movement that started in October 2019 used disproportionate force to disperse peaceful protesters and thus was responsible for “committing serious human rights violations”.
“We call on France to ensure that there are no further sales until the Lebanese authorities have acknowledged past violations,” Aymeric Elluin, arms transfers advocacy officer with Amnesty International France, declared. “Lebanese security forces are operating in a climate of impunity,” he added.
The Amnesty group is basing its claims on analysis of more than 100 videos of protests in Beirut, and on collected testimonies and medical records from protesters. Amnesty claims that the excessive use of force by Lebanese authorities resulted in many serious head, eye and upper body injuries, as government forces fired gas canisters and rubber bullets directly at protesters, sometimes from close range.
Many of the weapons used in the crackdown, including armoured vehicles, were produced in France. “There has been no effective investigation of the unlawful use of weapons, including those made in France, against peaceful protesters, and not a single security officer has been held to account by judicial authorities,” Elluin observed.