Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Beirut 1954

27 March 1954: AUB student protest against the Baghdad Pact

Excerpts : Stephen L. Penrose University Senate Minutes

'From early morning Saturday strong forces of police and gendarmes took up their stands at the gates of the University. The campus was fairly quiet until 11 o’clock, although the atmosphere was tense…

A few minutes before 12 o’clock the procession marched from the Main Gate around the library and then down toward the Medical Gate. This gate had been closed and chained by the security force.

When the demonstration arrived near the Social Sciences Building Mr. Thabit Mahayni, President of the Urwat, spoke to the crowds denouncing the alleged attempts of Western powers to bring pressure upon Iraq and the new Pakistan-Turkish Pact, and criticized the Lebanese Government and Mr. Yafi in particular for preventing the students from expressing their protest in public demonstration.

Following the speech students proceeded towards the gate and decided to open it by force. The security forces were supported by fire engines and the fire brigade directed the water hoses on the students.

A large number of students had carried stones in their pockets and they began to stone the security forces. The security forces were quiet for a little while, contenting themselves with the water that was directed against the students.

However, the Fire Department had brought only two trucks of water and they were soon exhausted. The students continued to throw stones and the security forces threw the stones back at them.

This lasted for a little while and then the shooting began…There were bullet marks on the iron fence, on the northwest corner of Post Hall, on the west of the Pharmacy Building which produced ricochets.

There are bullet marks in trees in front of the Social Sciences Building and on the walls of the Social Sciences Building from knee height to high on the building, proving that live bullets were fired at body height as well as in the air over the heads of the students.

From the time the shooting began the security forces were very severe and rather brutal. There are reports that they even dragged a student from an ambulance and hit him. Some of the doctors and technicians, even though wearing white coats, risked their lives in order to remove some wounded…

Upon investigation at the AUB Hospital we found that 26 injured students reached the Hospital.

It has been stated that the shooting from the security forces did not come from the police but from the gendarmerie, and they claim that the first shot came from a building inside the University and from adjacent buildings outside the campus.'

The image is of students attempting to help a wounded friend. It is a screen grab from Pathe News of the protest. The footage is available from the Pathe website (just fill in the form and download the low res—it's a silent film)

No comments: