In al-Yammouneh, Charbel Promises to Compensate Bekaa Cannabis Farmersإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Sunday announced that the government would provide compensations to the Bekaa’s cannabis farmers whose crops were and will be destroyed.
Speaking from the Bekaa town of al-Yammouneh, whose residents have staged a sit-in in protest at the destruction of cannabis crops, Charbel said he will raise the issue during a cabinet session on Monday and that he will suggest three proposals, one of which would be paying compensations to the farmers.
“I stand by both the state and the people and I pledge to you that I will seriously tackle this issue,” Charbel vowed.
“I have three proposals for you, one of which I am not willing to back down from and that is granting you compensations,” he added.
Later on Sunday, MTV reported that the cabinet will likely pay L.L.500,000 in compensation for every dunum of cannabis destroyed over the past few days.
Al-Yammouneh residents, who ended their sit-in following Charbel's remarks, on Saturday blocked with burning tires the three entrances leading to the town and its fields, setting up a tent in the middle of the road to protest the army and security forces’ destruction of the cannabis crops.
Yammouneh municipality head Mohammed Shraif, who participated in the sit-in, stressed the residents’ support for the army, security forces, and Resistance.
He also denied reports that some 250 gunmen had arrived in the region to confront the security forces.
He stated that the sit-in is aimed at highlighting the residents’ demand for a “decent way of life.”
Addressing President Michel Suleiman, he asked about al-Yammouneh lake project that was supposed to help create job opportunities in the town, saying that it has been neglected.
Addressing security authorities, Shraif urged them to “realize the dangerousness of this phase,” reminding them of the pledges they had been receiving since 1995 over being provided with alternate crops to grow in the region.
“The destruction of the cannabis crops has turned into the destruction of the souls of the citizens who have been seeking to earn a decent living, given the government’s absence,” he added.
He urged the MPs of the region to visit the area “because our response will take place during the parliamentary elections.”
“The MPs themselves should destroy the crops,” he stressed.
Moreover, Shraif called on various spiritual leaders to consider the difficulties al-Yammouneh residents are experiencing.
The head of the Bekaa anti-drug bureau Elias Zoaiter had visited the scene of the sit-in to try to negotiate an end to the residents’ action, but to no avail.
The residents’ action thwarted the security forces from resuming the destruction of the cannabis crops.
They have since remained deployed in the area.
Meanwhile, Liberation and Development MP Ghazi Zoaiter denied to the National News Agency on Saturday claims that al-Yammouneh residents had armed themselves to confront the security forces.
One person was injured on Saturday when cannabis farmers opened fire on a van transporting workers to help the Internal Security Forces destroy cannabis fields in the eastern Bekaa valley, NNA reported.
Hussein Nayef Salim, 57, was wounded in the waist after around 15 bullets hit the van in the town of Hawsh Barada in Baalbek.
The incident came a day after the Lebanese army command said two soldiers were injured after gunmen opened fire on the troops and ISF personnel in Yammouneh.
The soldiers fired back at the source of the shooting and the army carried out raids to arrest the suspects, while the process of eradicating the crops continued in accordance with the scheduled program, the army said.
The ISF’s general command said that around 200 dunums of cannabis fields were destroyed on Friday, upping the total areas of eradication in the Bekaa to 6,615 dunums.