‘Youth against the System’ Facebook page kicked off “authority provides the urine, we provide the cash” hashtag in Arabic, through which they voiced out their resentment of the General Security forces’ treatment at police stations.
Security forces had arrested a number of young participants in Riad al-Solh’s recent protests. Once in custody, they deprived them from their right to contact their families or their lawyer, and forced them to take drug urine tests in, what activists have deemed, an explicit attempt to distort the image of the civic movement and the organizers behind it.
Youth against the System published a copy of a 50,000 LBP receipt for the urine test that one of the detained protesters was forced to take at his own expense, not that of the General Security.
“Protesters who refused to pay for the tests for financial reasons were threatened to be incarcerated on drug-related charges,” activists said, denouncing the heinous blackmail practices they were exposed to.
Each detainee paid 50,000 LBP for the unwarranted test although it is known that these tests are usually conducted at the expense of the state.
Youth against the System lashed out at the oppressive government for its sly tactics to sully the protesters' reputation as drug addicts.
Despite all the uproar on social media, no official statement has been released by the Internal Security Forces so as to justify their sordid means.
“Shame on this government, they want to make business out of this as well! The more people they arrest, the larger the lump sum! They want to accuse protesters of drug addiction just because they revolted against the government,” one user commented. “It is such a pity that it’s happening only in Lebanon, a state impoverished and looted by its politicians. They also want to steal the poor’s daily bread, there’s no doubt a day will come when they will rebel.”
Most activists described it as “the new looting technique,” striking two birds in one go: Swindle them and defile their image before the public.
We called an ISF source in order to get to the bottom of this case, and he explained that, unlike what activist are saying, only suspicious profiles were forced to take the test.
“Tests were only administered on people after close surveillance and not by coincidence,” the source added.
As to the test fees, the source said that the procedure is not new, and that in the case the detainee did not possess the required payment and his results came negative, “we are willing to refund the entire amount.”
It was said that only vandals were arrested and that security forces do not object to demonstrations as long as laws and public properties are respected.
“The tests are not aimed at distorting the protest’s image. Protesters, even rioters, are considered as one of our own but our prime goal is the protection of citizens.” he concluded.
An article originally written in Arabic by Christelle Nouar.