Young men and women changed South Lebanon’s electoral landscape

Tuesday 14 June 202211:27 am
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التغيير في جنوب لبنان... نضال الشباب والشابات قلب المشهد

I can still feel the hands of elderly grandmothers on my arms and face during election day, whenever one of them passes me by, and would find out that I am part of the “Together Towards Change” (‘Maan Nahwa al-Taghyeer’) electoral machine. I can still hear the echoes of the chants, I can hear the celebratory cries rising from within, and I can see the tears that I could not hold back.

For the second time after the October 17 uprising, I found my voice, I felt it with every chant I’d repeat, after it had been stifled by the Beirut Port explosion and the consecutive crises we witnessed in Lebanon. For me, May 15, and all that followed, was revenge for our victims, our dreams, our expatriation, and our asylum. It was a liberation from the wounds that afflicted us on the one hand, and a victory on the other hand for the raised awareness of the region and its people, for their rejection of all the extortionate slogans and speeches filled with treasonous accusations that marginalized the region under the banners of resistance, without looking at the state of the people and their conditions, as well as the neglect concerning the people and the development in the region that came about from the policies of the de-facto forces.

The change that we witnessed in the South III district was led by unknown soldiers. What I saw in the eyes of the young men and women in the South III constituency cannot be described or summarized in just a few lines or words, and no sentences could convey the spark that could be felt by the tone of their voices, their eyes, and their grief and heartache when describing everything they went through between October 17, 2019, and May 16, 2022.

But what can actually be said is that the country’s South succeeded in standing for election and attracting all eyes towards it, as it tipped the scales of power in it. What I can convey to you today is the southern reality within our eyes as young men and women, before and after change — the change that we have achieved at the political level, as well as at the level of the feudal and patriarchal system that dominates a region that has been under occupation by Israeli enemy forces, and after that, suffered under poverty and marginalization.

South Lebanon is a part of Lebanon. It is not separate from it, and the suffering of its inhabitants is the same as that of the entire Lebanese people. None of the ruling successive authorities paid any attention to this region. Instead, they neglected and abandoned it from the beginning of the Israeli occupation until its liberation in 2000. With time, the South went from the enemy’s domination and hegemony to that of the ‘shabbiha’ (thugs) of the Lebanese regime and the political feudal alliance of the South. Attempts for the development of the region became strictly tied to quotas and party investments, all at the expense of the people’s interests, and the work of the MPs of the South was just limited to participating in the joyous and sad occasions, as if the people were in need of someone to attend their occasions instead of someone who would be active and work for them on a political level.

 The reality in our eyes as young men and women from South Lebanon after the change we've achieved at the political level, challenging the feudal and patriarchal system that has dominated a marginalized impoverished region

The spark of the October 17 uprising in 2019 has moved to the region thanks to its young men and women who strove to raise awareness and raise their voices among the people, with the aim of breaking the status quo and the state of quiet compliance plaguing the region. Then, despite the lack of hope, it was necessary to engage in the ensuing political battle and insist on making their voices heard, by nominating those who share their thinking and who call for a program that resembles their goals and aspirations, in order to stand up to all the campaigns waged against them that were accusing them of treason.

In addition to all this, it was also necessary to highlight the participation of women and their role in this victory, and here we must make note of the photos taken of the women of the South on Liberation Day. Those same women, who did not separate themselves from any of the historical phases and milestones that South Lebanon went through, are today in the middle of the political battles that the region is engaged in. And even if their names weren’t present on the list of change itself, they still broke the stereotypical image of them. They stood at the forefront of the decisions that were taken for this list, and as officials in the electoral machine. Today they see that the elections have changed a lot in the people’s views, and that the upcoming parliamentary elections — and before it in the next municipal elections — will witness a large participation of women in the candidatures and in the midst of the battle.

“Here we are today regenerating hope and revenge against a regime that has tried to paralyze our movement for years, and tried to execute us time and again. Today we seek healing. The struggles we are waging throughout Lebanon have begun to bear fruit”

Here is the youth group in the South fighting back for the sake of the country and homeland, and for a future that resembles their dreams, and here we are today regenerating hope and vengeance against a regime that has tried to paralyze our movement for years, and has tried to execute us over and over again, and here we are today seeking to be healed. We must have planted today something that resembles hope, and the struggles that we are waging throughout Lebanon have begun to finally bear fruit.

Change has a long cumulative path ahead, but it is not impossible, and today we have broken the image of clientelism and political leadership by dropping two traditional, familiar faces that are supported by all political parties: Assaad Hardan and Marwan Khaireddine. People are now realizing their power when it comes to transparency and accountability. They taught the region’s parties a lesson that will pass on from generation to generation to come.

 

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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