The huge explosion that occurred on Tuesday, August 4 in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, has shocked many people the world over. Hundreds were killed, thousands wounded and many housing, administrative, and commercial buildings collapsed leaving over 300,000 people homeless.
While the exact reasons for the explosion are still unclear, the fact that nearly 3,000 tonnes of deadly ammonium nitrate were stored unsafely in a port hangar for six years despite the immense dangers it posed to the population of Beirut is symptomatic of how rotten, corrupt and dysfunctional the Lebanese state has become. The events around this tragic explosion are indeed taking place in exceptional circumstances, as Lebanon has been experiencing a mass social movement since last October. This movement has been demanding an end to the ruling system that has nurtured corruption, sectarianism, widening poverty and indebtedness, enriching a handful of political thieves and bankers while bringing the country to bankruptcy.
The Lebanese ruling elite has tried to bring the resolve of the Lebanese people to its knees by means of repression and by stirring up more sectarian strife. This comes on top of the large spread of the Coronavirus, which in turn has dramatically worsened the country’s economic crisis.
The port of Beirut, which represents 70% of the country’s trade, has been completely destroyed. This includes the grain silos, which exposes the country to a serious food crisis. The shortages and high prices of essential medicines, foodstuffs, and other products of basic necessity, as well as regular power and water shortages, were already serious problems for Lebanon’s poor, working class and, increasingly, middle class people before this tragedy. They will be made incomparably worse after it.
Several hospitals were destroyed due to the explosion and others had their electricity cut off, along with large parts of the city, which forced them to treat the wounded in the streets with rudimentary means. Many of the wounded in resuscitation units died due to the interruption of electricity. Many urgent operations are now carried out in the streets with electric generators.
International Socialist Alternative affirms its solidarity with the Lebanese people in their plight, and its unconditional support for their living revolutionary struggle.
- Open a comprehensive, transparent and independent investigation to determine the real causes behind this tragedy, and hold all involved accountable.
- All relief should be organized, controlled and distributed by the Lebanese people. themselves, for example by establishing solidarity committees in affected neighborhoods, to ensure that supplies reach those who need them.
- We need international solidarity with the ongoing struggle of the Lebanese masses, and for the full repudiation of Lebanon’s debts.
- Bring the banks and construction companies immediately under public ownership and democratic control, to prevent any profiteering on the back of the victims during the reconstruction process.
- Build the struggle for workers and youth in Lebanon and around the world, to fight for a socialist alternative and an end to the world of wars, exploitation, destruction and epidemics of capitalism.