| 14 July 2024, Sunday |

Lebanese depositors resume sit-ins demanding their money back

A number of Lebanese depositors on Tuesday resumed their sit-ins in front of the Central Bank building in Beirut and the residence of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to demand the recovery of their deposits, frozen by banks more than three years ago.

The depositors destroyed a bank ATM, and they damaged the building of the Association of Banks.

In the past months, sit-ins staged by depositors in Lebanon showed a downturn following attempts exerted by the government and parliament to find solutions to the economic crisis that has been going on since October 2019.

Three years ago, banks imposed unilateral control on what most depositors can withdraw each week in US dollars or the Lebanese lira, which has lost more than 95% of its value.

Sources accompanying Tuesday’s movements said that the sit-ins were not linked to any political event. They said the movement came after authorities failed to find solutions to the economic crisis.

Early this week, the Association of Depositors in Lebanon called for a sit-in facing the Parliament building on Tuesday to demand their money back from the banks. The movement later expanded after angry depositors gathered in front of Mikati’s residence, throwing firecrackers and trying to cut the barbed wires amid stringent security measures.

A group of depositors also blocked the way in front of Parliament amid heavy deployment of the army and security forces.

Tens of protesters then marched in the streets of Downtown Beirut, carrying banners expressing their protest against financial policies, demanding the return of their deposits, and calling for the overthrow of the “banking authority.”

They said “the movement is only the beginning of a spark,” asking that the political class, the banks, the Association of Banks, and the Governor of the Banque du Liban be held accountable.

They also called on the Arab League summit to “bring down the corrupt system,” and also rejected the decisions of Parliament and the government, which they accused of stealing their money.

“We, lawyers, engineers, and university students, are not thugs and thieves,” they said, warning that “depositors would become a ticking bomb.”

The sit-in in Beirut was attended by MPs Najat Aoun and Melhem Khalaf.

Later, another group of depositors stormed a bank in the area and smashed its ATM. They also burned tires.

Reports also said that angry protesters marched to the Association of Banks headquarters in Beirut, and they caused damage to parts of the building.

Bank branches in and around Downtown Beirut were forced to close their doors.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat