We want Horsh Beirut open to public

Horsh Beirut è precluso ai beirutini...In 1696, the Horsh Beirut Pine forest used to be as large as 1,250,000 square meters but the Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, and World War II allies each took their turn plundering its timber in order to build ships and weapons.

Further damage has been done since then to such an extent that today one of the only urban parks in this concrete jungle has shrunk to a mere 255,000 square meters.

Although significantly smaller than it once was, Horsh Beirut could still offer residents of Beirut a retreat from the city smog – if the city hadn’t denied access to it for the last two decades. Activists are now speaking out against what they say is a denial of their inalienable rights.

This article was featured on the Green Prophet’s website on February 02, 2012, written by Tafline Laylin.Ten years ago Beirut’s municipality rehabilitated the park (presumably using taxpayer money) but it still hasn’t been re-opened to the public and no decent explanation has been given.

Activists with Nahnoo (“We” in Arabic), a leading organization that empowers Lebanese youth, have taken up the matter by demanding a democratic public forum.

A Facebook invitation for more than 2,600 citizens has been established to encourage participation in the forum that had been held at the Madina Theater in Hamra, Beirut on the 8th of February.

Organizers claim that “the largest green park in Beirut is a public property and a right for all. Yet, it has been closed for public for more than twenty years and only few people are granted the right to access it.”

But the reasoning behind the closure may not be so simple, which is why Nahnoo invites the public to explore the challenges surrounding Horsh Beirut – the most significant carbon sink in the city.

While Egyptians march against police brutality yet again, and al-Assad continues his terrible crack down in Syria, Lebanese residents are turning to a peaceful democratic process in order to achieve their goals. We are definitely rooting for them.

We Want to open Horsh Beirut to the public. Following the public debate which took place on 8 Feb at Madina theater. We are eager to follow up on this effort and see it through to the end! We are therefore organizing an open brainstorming session to come up with a plan on how to open Horsh Beirut, manage it well, keep it clean and secure!

By the end of the meeting, we will also be forming a committees (1) to actively follow up with (and assist) the Head of the Municipality (2) to unite on the efforts to open Horsh Beirut as soon as possible.

This is the time to make our ideas heard! Let’s make Horsh Beirut our park, the park of the people. The time is on 3 March 2012 from 2pm till 5 pm
Place: Zico House,3rd floor, Spears street, near al sanayeh Garden.

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