Rabih Alameddine (@beirutiguy ) is an author.
In an op-ed, he writes:
I was talking to my mother when I heard the explosion. The shaking happened first, followed by the blast. We couldn’t tell what it was, but it felt worse than any car bomb, any missile, anything that occurred during the 15-year civil war.
As of this writing, more than 100 people are dead and at least 4,000 injured. The images of destruction are horrifying.
To say that this could not have happened at a worse time for Lebanon would be an understatement. The economy had tanked, the Lebanese pound had lost more than 60 percent of its value in just the past month, and banks were allowing only minimal withdrawals.
Most of the citizens are starving. Demonstrations have been rocking the streets since last October. The government and its cronies have sent the army, the police and various militias to beat up demonstrators. Lebanon was teetering, and then we got the novel coronavirus.
And now this.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would make sure that whoever was responsible for the chemicals being left at the port and whoever caused the accident would be punished — the harshest sentences to be meted out.
But I kept thinking: Why?
As a society, we keep looking to punish people, calling it justice. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t punish those responsible for the devastation. They can go to hell, and if that’s not available, then prison. But that result isn’t justice. It’s barely a palliative.
As far as we know, it turned out to be something much more sinister. An accident because no one in government, no one with any responsibility for the care and well-being of Lebanon and its people, cares. They never have.
I could list all the disasters that have befallen the country in recent years, but that would take an encyclopedic tome.
Visit the link in our bio to read his full op-ed.
(📸: Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)