Retired Servicemen Erect Protest Tent at Riad al-Solh
Retired officers and soldiers on Friday began a sit-in at the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut, erecting a tent which they called 'The Tent of the Nation's Martyrs' and banners saying 'The Servicemen's Rights are a Red Line'.
“We reject the imposition of taxes or the cut of a single lira from the salaries of retired or active servicemen,” they said in a statement.
“Some officials have insisted on slapping taxes on the retirees and they are trying to cut a percentage of their salaries,” the retirees warned.
“Those who robbed the people have come up with a state budget against the poor and middle classes,” they lamented.
The retired servicemen finally announced that they will keep the protest tent until Monday, May 20, when the anniversary of the Nahr al-Bared battle will be marked.
Lebanon is set to impose austerity measures to combat its bulging fiscal deficit. It is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's.
The budget for 2019 has yet to be finalized, but thousands of Lebanese public employees went on strike in the past weeks amid fears that their salaries and benefits would be cut as part of strict austerity measures to reduce a ballooning budget deficit and massive national debt. They included employees at Banque du Liban, Beirut's port, the Social National Security Fund and the main state-run landline telephone company.
Retired servicemen have also staged a series of protests across Lebanon.