David Sladek

Photographer, journalist
   
Thawra - Lebanese revolution entering 8th week amid failing state economy
Location: Surrey, UK
Nationality: Czech
Biography: David Sládek is Czech independent photojournalist and photodocumentarist living in London and a former reporter for the Czech News Agency. Since moving to London more than a decade ago he has been focusing his photographic work on life of... read on
Public Story
Thawra - Lebanese revolution entering 8th week amid failing state economy
Credits: david sladek
Date of Work: 11/30/19 - 12/01/19
Updated: 12/06/19
Location: Beirut
Thousands of Lebanese of all generations have been taking to the streets for over 7 weeks to protest against government corruption, sectarian divisions and economic mismanagement of country's finances leading to spiraling debt and huge gaps between the super rich few and majority of poor people. Protests, rightly called the Revolution - Thawra, started on 17th October when the government tried to pass a law charging people for calls on WhatsApp and other data applications as a means to improve failing state finances. Since then, millions joined the protests not only in Lebanon but across the world, calling for the whole government to resign and remove sectarian divisions of power installed by The Taif Agreement designed to guarantee peace after bloody civil war in the 1980s.

Thawra is a peaceful protest and is not only highly creative, but also environmentally conscious, with street clean ups and recycling of rubbish taking place every day. For the first time in decades, Lebanese are uniting together leaving religious differences behind. Muslims stand hand in hand with Christians, Sunnis with Shiias, defying random attacks from sympathizers of Hezbollah (shiia) and supporters of the president Michael Aoun (Maronite Christian).

During the course of the revolt, protesters have created over 100km long human chain from the North to South of Lebanon, connecting its biggest cities in an unseen act of unity.

But a reminder that hard times are still to come is the falling value of Lebanese Pound, which, though officially still pegged against the US Dollar at little over 1500/1 rate, is being exchanged on black market for over 2200. Lebanon is burdened with massive state debt. Whilst super high interest rates enabled small minority of Lebanese enjoyed vast profits, the majority of people see no benefits. Country still doesn't have 24 hour electricity and Lebanese are forced to pay providers of backup generators for what they see as a total failure of government. Mobile phone rates are some of the highest in he world, rents across the country do not reflect economic power of ordinary people, fuel shortages have become a regular occurrence. Many companies started to cut wages or not pay them in full as economists warn that this is only a beginning of an impending collapse of the Lebanese economy. Protesters view government as blind, elitist and non-responsive and are asking for a demise of the whole cabinet.
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