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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/29/20

Forward Thinking on Covid-19: Lebanon

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From Smirking Chimp

How does a revolution mobilize against the threat of Covid-19? In Lebanon, activists are bypassing their government's inadequate response to ensure funds are sent directly to hospitals, refugees, and the Lebanese Red Cross. "We didn't vote for [the politicians] so we don't feel like they are our representatives," says activist Dayna Ash. In this interview, Ash breaks down the people's response to Covid-19 and the fight for justice in Lebanon. "Losing hope is a privilege we cannot afford," she says. "We will continue. We will push forward""

Check out our episode featuring Dayna Ash: From the Creative Frontline of Lebanon's Revolution.

And for more forward thinking on Covid-19, check out these web extras:

We're Not All in the Same Boat with Terry McGovern

Lessons From the AIDS Crisis for COVID-19 with Kenyon Farrow

How We Can Use Tools of Mutual Aid to Manage COVID-19 with Ejeris Dixon

About Dayna Ash
Dayna Ash is a cultural activist and founder/director of Haven for Artists in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2019, she was named one of the BBC's 100 Women for 2019. She is the recipient of the 2020 Woman of Distinction Award from United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Transcript

Laura Flanders: This week's show features a very special guest: Dana Ash. She is the cofounder of The Haven for Artists in Beirut, Lebanon. And just two weeks ago, when we spoke in studio, she was talking about the revolution in Lebanon that broke out last October and the way that this creative resistance in the streets is doing for society what the government has completely failed to do. With the arrival of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the rebellion continues, but the context has changed. Here's the conversation that Dana and I had just a few minutes ago. She was speaking to me this time from New York, where she's currently kind of trapped.

So you're in New York and you're dealing with the shut down, but you're following what's happening in Lebanon. What are you hearing from your friends back home?

Dayna Ash: Well, there's different things that are going on. So we've done a national lock-down in Lebanon, and it was actually mostly pushed by the revolutionaries themselves. They started doing campaigning to get people to stay home. They pushed for it as much as possible. But about two days ago I think was when the prime minister actually did call for a lock-down. He still hasn't called for a national emergency. As we know, up until around the 18th, there were still planes coming in from highly affected areas all over the world. We're still getting planes coming in from Milan, we're still getting planes coming in from Iran up until the 18th of March, which was just about four or five days ago. So that was another thing that the revolutionaries also pushed for, which was just to shut down at least the highly infected areas coming into Lebanon. So we have 267 confirmed cases in Lebanon, eight of which are recovered, and four of which are confirmed deaths.

The Lebanese Red Cross is pretty much doing amazing work. Local activists and independent activists have been requesting that people do not donate to the government, just because there hasn't been that build of trust yet. We didn't vote for them, so we also don't feel like they're our representatives so much as representatives that were placed there. And not much has changed internally as far as governmental structure for us to start having trust. So everyone is requesting that it goes directly to families in need, directly to the Lebanese Red Cross, directly to hospitals that are currently taking in corona cases.

We did have a few politicians and banks promise to donate, which is fantastic because they're kind of giving back our money, which was one of our jokes of, great, now you've given us 600,000 back, but wait for the other 50 million. So we're just kind of trying as best we can to make sure the health of our citizens and civilians are, to the best of our ability, getting the funds they require. Our doctors and our hospitals are understaffed. They don't have enough support, and they don't have enough ventilators or any of the things they require as far as medical equipment they need to continue to make sure the virus and people does not expand. The Lebanese Red Cross posted something where it said every single case of corona required $836. But 836 times 267 times 447 responses a day gets a little costly.

Laura Flanders: And is that covering refugees as well, no?

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Laura Flanders is the host of "GRIT TV" the new, news and culture discussion program aired daily on Free Speech TV (Dish Network ch. 9415) and online at the popular blog site Firedoglake.com. Flanders also hosts RadioNation, on Air America (more...)
 

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