Popular Sovereignty & #YouStink

The first article called “New Paradigms of Popular Sovereignty in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings” by Paul Amar explains all the different forms of sovereignty that were happening in the Arab world. They look at a variety of paradigms which focused on authority, imperialism, history, repression, etc. One of the articles mentions the feminist organization and how they continuously fought back against the state to change moralism regardless of consequences.

The second article explains the issues that arises due many places being regulated and privatized by the mayor. One of the cities largest park was even closed due to it being believed it would cause unwanted “political violence”. While reading the article I also learned how most of the state has regulation throughout the state by “privatization” of land. There are many places that have been closed to the general public and made private for example the Corniche which is a historical urban city is now commercialized and the marina called Zaytuna Bay as well. Putting so much restrictions on land that was public at one point puts a sense of sovereignty in the State and helps keep the citizens under control.

The third reading we had to look at was on the trash issue in Lebanon.  Before looking into the #YouStink campaign I never had heard of the movement and uprising that occurred in Lebanon during August 2015. The images that were taken and shown in the article really put into perspective the crisis the country was facing and how the government controlled its people. It is awful learning how other countries allow things like this to get so out of hand. The images showed how the police was shooting water out of canons and beating people them because they were rebelling against the trash issue. They wanted it removed because it represented the government failure and was causing health illnesses. Imagine if you lived in a country that would deny you basic rights?

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Popular Sovereignty & #YouStink

Beirut and #youstink

Of the readings, the part that stuck out to me most were the pictures of Lebanon, both the protests and the trash covering the streets. The people contest that the government is showing itself to be weak and inefficient if it is not able to properly carry out waste management duties for the country. The reading states that the main landfill in Beirut was closed down and since then the trash had been collecting for over a month. The article was from August of 2015. While I’d agree that the government of Lebanon is certainly failing to address some issues related their garbage, and more importantly their citizens, I also think that the trash crisis in Beirut is relevant to something other than rights and government abuses. I’m not sure why that landfill was shut down but it could have been that it was full. If so the Beirut trash crisis is more of a caution of human failing than just the government’s. People generated too much trash and people didn’t plan for what happened if the landfills they currently had weren’t sufficient to accommodate it. As landfills around the world fill up it seems only a matter of time before a similar situation occurs in another country. The Beirut trash crisis is just as much an environmental warning as it is an example of governmental neglect.

The article that stuck out to me most was the first one, the one that pertained to issues surrounding the privatization of Dalieh. The article went into a lot of detail about how the area was public use and sovereignty could be defined as those who use a public space. However the property was still bought by investors and the communities surrounding it were bought out.  It reminds me of the after Tahir panel discussion of the government and military working with contractors to gentrify the country. It seems something similar is going on in Lebanon.

Beirut and #youstink

You Stink

The YouStink campaign targets removing the garbage that the Lebanon government refuses to acknowledge. The movement has an active website that is published in two languages to accommodate both the locals facing the issue and those who are interested in learning more. Not only does it provide their mission and what they stand for as a group but also have direct links to social media accounts that provide even more opinions and information. What amazed me were the pictures in the article written by Taylor. It was powerful to see not only the amount of trash just there in the open, but how the protesters are dealt with. They are hosed down, beaten, shot at, and injured fighting for sanitation in their homes. You think that the government would take action to help the people. They are asking for a simple thing, which is to pick up the trash. Without following through the spread of disease as a problem arises. I put myself in their situation and it sounds horrible: the thought that trash would just pile up in the streets.

You Stink

Additional research to #youstink

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard about the trash crisis in Lebanon before taking this class. Since most of the information on the youstink-website was in Arabic, I did a Google search to find out a bit more about the background of the movement. The garbage crisis seemed to be the proverbial straw to break the camel’s back as the country has been struggling with other issues such as intermittent power and water supply, sectarian conflict and the inability to elect a president. The latter two seem to be part of the cause for the trash crisis and therefore make targets for protest. Some might even go so far as to say that the trash is only the cover for the other ongoing conflicts.

Until now, Lebanon’s sectarianism had never sunk so low as to include waste. One is left to wonder whether the current crisis is actually about waste or if it is a sectarian conflict fueled by other factors. – Sami Nader for Al Monitor

In his article Sami Nader poses the question whether religiously divided landfills might solve the garbage crisis, a thought that might seem absurd to people living in Europe or the USA, but apparently religion even plays a role when it comes to trash. As a person that is not religious, but respectful of others’ beliefs, I am sad to read about this. Instead of everybody working together to solve a crisis, this seems like only helping the in- and rejecting the out-group. Even if that finally leads to the removal of garbage, the way of getting there cannot be celebrated as a victory.

Another interesting paragraph that I found was in a New York Times article about the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the question on where life was worse. It is a strange question to consider which human rights violations and social issues one would rather be willing to accept.

Now, even Syrians fleeing war pronounce themselves shocked at the lack of infrastructure in Lebanon. Some of them, however, express a hint of jealousy that Lebanon’s weak state allows freedoms unavailable in Syria, where protests were crushed with deadly force. (Some Lebanese — especially those who support the government of President Bashar al-Assad — wonder why the Syrians revolted when they had free health care and college education, unimaginable in Lebanon.) – Anne Barnard for The New York Times

I furthermore found a satirical article as a form of digital activism. It appeared on a website that appears to be the Middle Eastern equivalent to the onion. The article was published a couple of days ago, which shows that the crisis is still ongoing.

Additional research to #youstink