Lebanese protesters storm Environment Ministry building, call on minister to resign

Anti-government protesters in Lebanon have stormed the Environment Ministry in Beirut, calling on the minister to resign amid the country's waste crisis. It comes days after tens of thousands of people hit the streets of Beirut, demanding government action.

The demonstrators are organizing a sit-in, refusing to leave until Minister Mohammad Mashnuq resigns.

"Mashnuq - out, out, out!" the protesters chanted. They told Reuters that they quietly entered the building in small groups before security services blocked the main door.  

Authorities cordoned off a room on the top floor and denied access to protesters and media. 

The initially peaceful sit-in briefly turned violent when police forces started to throw the protesters out of the ministry. The site was surrounded by law enforcement cordons and journalists were denied access to the building.

Shortly afterwards, police began beating protesters and journalists who were still inside the ministry, protester Pierre Hachache told Al Jazeera.

“We were peaceful. We didn't do anything,” Hachache said.

The beating caused Lucien Bou Rjeilly, one of the campaign spokespersons, to suffer broken shoulders.

There had been about 50 protesters left in the building.

The protesters are part of the "You Stink" campaign, which has given the government until Tuesday evening to meet its demands. 


"They did not fulfill our demands...We were all on the streets, tens of thousands of us saying our demands. Once more they are escaping accountability. We will not take it anymore," said Lucien Bourjeily of the "You Stink" movement.

Those demands include a sustainable solution to a trash crisis that flared in mid-July, the resignation of Mashnuq, and new elections to replace a parliament that has been in power since 2009, AFP reported.

The action on Tuesday comes just two days after the movement promised a "surprise" for the government.

"You Stink" organized a huge demonstration in central Beirut on Saturday, threatening to escalate its efforts if the government did not meet its demands by Tuesday evening.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Beirut's Martyrs Square, chanting "The people want the downfall of the government!" and "Revolution!"

They expressed anger at government corruption and a lack of basic services, including power and water.

The movement was initially launched to demand a solution to the garbage crisis, which has seen trash pile up uncollected. It has since expanded to a call for a total government rehaul. 

Lebanon has seen a series of protests against the government, prompted by the country's waste crisis. 


Demonstrations have so far been mostly peaceful, although 10 people were arrested and two policemen injured in clashes between officers and protesters on Sunday, according to security officials. 

The "You Stink" movement has tried to distance itself from those involved in violent clashes with police.