Beirut to Vienna – Funeral March for the Dead

Following the devastating explosion in Beirut, the Lebanese diaspora in Vienna is demonstrating in support.

In solidarity with the traumatized citizens of Beirut, Austria’s Lebanese community will hold a Trauermarsch today, Sunday, August 9, from Morzinplatz to the Stephansdom at 14:00 (2:00 p.m.) in commemoration of the lives and livelihoods lost in this week’s explosion.

As vigils are held around the world, Beirut’s streets filled once again Saturday, August 8, as some 10,000 protestors filled Mayters’s Square, according to Reuters, more emboldened than ever, in a continuation of mass demonstrations that began in the fall of 2019, now coined the October Revolution – echoing the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 which overthrew centuries of Tzarist rule. For days that became weeks, nearly half of the country took their amassed grievances to the streets protesting a highly corrupted and negligent political class responsible for the economic crises, infrastructural collapse and famine facing the country. After more than ten months of demonstrations and amidst a global pandemic, last week’s explosion was yet another devastating blow at the hands of the government.

4/08/20

 Beirut, a capital that has long grown tired of proving its resilience, having weathered it’s fair share of storms in the last few decades, was shaken by the world’s third largest explosion. On August 4th, when 2,750 tons of high-grade ammonium nitrate erupted in the port of Beirut, displacing more than 300,000 people, injuring 6,000 and taking the lives of at least 158 people, according to the Red Cross. To add insult to injury, as several Beirut-based activists have reported, the ruling class has been almost entirely out of sight since, leaving civil society organizations(CSOs), NGOs and the people to clean the rubble.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of the Free Party Movement, Gebran Bassil has been a continuing presence in the media, however. In a recent interview with CNN, Bassil, referred to the explosion as a “drama” for which he bears no responsibility, instead pointing fingers at the political structure itself. It is this particular flavor of disregard that seems so emblematic of the Lebanese ruling class, say locals, which has plunged the country into a state of emergency. As CNN’s Becky Anderson made clear, Bassil and other leaders across the political spectrum, do neither represent nor act in the interests of the majority of the Lebanese people, who have long had to depend on each other over their government.

Saturday’s Protests

On Saturday evening, after days of cleaning up rubble and tending to the injured and displaced, the Lebanese returned to the streets of Beirut bearing placards offering the leadership two options: “Resign or Hang”. Protestors stormed the parliament and the ministries of economics, foregin affairs, environment and energy,  only to be met with hours of rounds of live ammunition, rubber bullets, fire, and tear gas – leaving over one hundred and seventy-five people injured, according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Last night’s show of militarization by the army left a particularly bitter taste in the mouths of many Lebanese, who have criticized the army’s near complete absence during the clean up efforts in the days prior.

NGOs and CSOs join forces

However, NGOs and CSOs in Lebanon, with support of countless volunteers, have joined forces to shelter, feed and heal a city now in shambles. Organizations like Impact Lebanon strive to “build the Lebanon every one of us deserves”. In the wake of last week’s events, this has become an even greater task. At the core of the explosion was Beirut’s port, through which much of Lebanon’s supplies and food entered the country. This is particularly dangerous as that 70% of Lebanon’s food is imported and food prices had already doubled since 2019, pushing many to the brink of starvation. Members of the Lebanese diaspora and the international community encourage all who can to support these efforts: A list of dedicated organizations working to mitigate the crisis can be found below:

Lebanese Red Cross @lebaneseredcross

Impact Lebanon @impact.lebanon

Beit El Baraka @beitelbaraka

Lebanese Food Bank @lebfoodbank

Live Love Beirut @livelovebeirut

Embrace Lebanon @embrace_lebanon

Union of Relief and Development Associations @urda.ngo

Baytna Baytak @baytna_baytak

FoodBlessed @foodblessed

Caitlin Elston-Weidinger
Born in Berlin but raised in Oregon, Caitlin is now finishing her degree in International Relations in the Netherlands. Throughout her studies she has also double minored in Geo-resources for the Future at TU Delft and Colloquial Lebanese at the American University of Beirut. She is an editor and contributor to a student e-magazine at Leiden University and enjoys film photography.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | 714 New Infections

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

Trump Praises Austrian “Forest Cities” With Exploding Trees

With some highly unusual comments meant to put California’s environmental management in a bad light, the U.S. president set off a twitter storm of mockery and once again exposed his ignorance of the world.

Hometown Explorers

As travel restrictions eviscerate Vienna’s hospitality sector, the city’s tour guides show locals the oddities, hidden spots and secrets of the city they call home.

How Romanian Artists Found Inspiration in Vienna

Throughout the ages, Vienna was a nexus for the literary, artistic, scientific and cultural creativity of many Romanians.

Torches on the Hill – Ultra-Conservatives March on the Kahlenberg

The Kahlenberg Church stands where an allied army gathered at dawn September 12, 1683 before sweeping down from the hills to break the Turkish siege of Vienna. Today it is both a cause for celebration and a rallying point for dubious arch-conservative fringe groups.

In Safety and Freedom, Romanian Entrepreneurs Found Success in Vienna

Romanians’ entrepreneurial spirit, long suppressed under the communist regime, is experiencing a renaissance – it can be felt even in Vienna.
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.