What’s happening in Libya?
By Ashley Bates
Source: Mother Jones
The following is a basic primer on what’s happening in Libya. You can also jump straight to the latest updates.
Last week, Libyan dissident Najla Aburrahman begged western media to pay attention to the bloodbath unfolding in her country. “If the Libyan protesters are ignored,” she wrote, “the fear is that [Libyan dictator Muammar] Qaddafi— a man who appears to care little what the rest of the world thinks of him—will be able to seal the country off from foreign observers, and ruthlessly crush any uprising before it even has a chance to begin.”
Since then, Qaddafi’s troops have used machine guns and large-caliber weapons against protesters in Benghazi, the country’s second-biggest city, and more than 200 protesters, including children, have reportedly been killed.
Why are Libyans unhappy?
Libya has been ruled for 42 years by a cunning, repressive, eccentric dictator who has frequently described his own people as “backwards.” More than half of his 6.5 million subjects are under 18. Despite Libya’s Libya’s plentiful oil revenues, which represent most of the national budget, many children suffer from malnutrition and anemia. Corruption is rampant, dissidents are brutally suppressed, and many citizens are afraid to say Qaddafi’s name in public or in private for fear of attracting suspicion. Instead, Qaddafi is often referred to as “the leader” and to his son Seif (until now heir-apparent) as “the principal.” Discussing national policy with a foreigner is punishable with three years in prison. Reporters Without Borders describes press freedom in Libya as “virtually non-existent.”
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Fresh Violence Rages in Libya
Protesters say security forces using warplanes and live ammunition “massacre” them, raising death toll to almost 300
Date: 22nd February 2011
Source: Al Jazeera English
Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are waging a bloody operation to keep him in power, with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and other cities, while other citizens, including the country’s former ambassador to India, are saying that warplanes were used to “bomb” protesters.
Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in continuing violence in the capital and across the north African country as demonstrations enter their second week.
Witnesses in Tripoli told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks. They said that “mercenaries” were firing on civilians in the city.
Residents of the Tajura neighbourhood, east of Tripoli, said that dead bodies are still lying on the streets from earlier violence. At least 61 people were killed in the capital on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeeera.
Protests in the oil-rich African country, which Gaddafi has ruled for 41 years, began on February 14, but picked up momentum after a brutal government crackdown following a “Day of Rage” on February 17. Demonstrators say they have now taken control of several important towns, including the city of Benghazi, which saw days of bloody clashes between protesters and government forces.
There has been a heavy government crackdown on protests, however, and demonstrators at a huge anti-government march in the capital on Monday afternoon said they came under attack from fighter jets and security forces using live ammunition.
“What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead,” Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast.
“Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you.”
Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, also told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians.
He said live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. The former ambassador called the violence “a massacre”, and called on the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to “protect the people”.
The country’s state broadcaster quoted Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, and widely seen as his political heir, as saying that armed forces had “bombarded arms depots situated far from populated areas”. He denied that air strikes had taken place in Tripoli and Benghazi.
The government says that it is battling “dens of terrorists”.
Earlier, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Gaddafi had started a “genocide against the Libyan people”.
During Monday’s protests, gunfire was heard across the capital, with protesters seen attacking police stations and government buildings, including the offices of the state broadcaster.
Witnesses told the AFP news agency that there had been a “massacre” in Tajura district, with gunmen seen firing “indiscriminately”.
In Fashlum district, helicopters were seen landing with what witnesses described as “mercenaries” disembarking and attacking those on the street.
Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist who has been in touch with residents, said that snipers have taken positions on roofs in an apparent bid to stop people joining the protests.
Several witnesses who spoke to the Associated Press news agency said that pro-Gaddafi gunmen were firing from moving cars at both people and buildings.
State television on Tuesday dismissed allegations that security forces were killing protesters as “lies and rumours”.
Rising death toll
Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which had been the focal point of violence in recent days, has now been taken over by anti-government protesters, after military units deserted their posts and joined the demonstrators.
The runway at the city’s airport, however, has been destroyed, according to the Egyptian foreign minister, and so planes cannot land there, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
According to the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), protesters are also in control of Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara.
On Sunday, the US-based rights group Human Rights Watch said that at least 233 people were killed in the violence. Added to that are at least 61 people who died on Monday, which brings the toll since violence began on February 17 to at least 294.
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell, a major oil company, said on Tuesday that all of its expatriate employees and their depenedents living in Libya have now been relocated.
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For those who are protesting on the streets face extreme brutality from the very people who are meant to serve the country; beatings, shooting, military tanks and military air strikes. It’s hard to believe that a Government would wage a war of this standard against its own people. For those in uniform whom still have humanity within them and have chosen to drop their guns are faced with the most excruciating form of death, burning.
Libya is a chaos covered with bloodbaths, and will continue to soak the earth with more blood as the deluded Gafaddi cannot comprehend the fact that this is a lost war from the very beginning. The more that are killed, the stronger the ripples of screams will reach the rest of the world. Libya has reached a point in which it cannot go back.
NB: Protests started from 17th February and up to this very day 23rd February, President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize recipient hasn’t said a single word.
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Why do you Libyans want Gaddafi gone? Here are some reasons…
Date: 21st February 2011
Salaries in Libya are governed by law number 15 which sets the average salary of Libyans at 200 dollars per month. To make things worst it is customary to have this low wage paid intermittently.
Law number 4 caters for the confiscation of private and commercial property, practically passing such stolen properties to the members of his family and of its so called revolutionary committee members who are in charge of security.
The burning down of the land registry building in Tripoli to destroy any reference of legal ownership of property.
The continuous discharge of untreated sewage in the sea in close proximity to the cities Tripoli and Benghazi
The sudden unnotified change of Libyan currency practically confiscating all personal assets of Libyans
Civil infrastructure, healthcare and the education system have failed beyond disbelief in the last 40 years.
Private Libyan citizens yearly spend on average 5billion dollars in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt out of their pockets for medical treatment, because they have completely lost trust in the Libyan health care system.
Gaddafi committed some of the most brutal human right excesses in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Libyan students were hanged in universities, sport auditoriums and public squares simply for not adhering to the green book ideology.
Gaddafi has squandered unimaginable wealth on his propaganda machine; mainly managed by such figures like Mr. Ali Alkilani and Mr. Abdullah Mansour
For many years Gaddafi squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on terrorist organizations such as the IRA and the red brigades, and on separatist movements in Africa, the Far East and central and Latin America.
Gaddafi’s agents killed WPC Ivon Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in London in 1984 and many other Libyan political dissidents through a campaign that he calls “Eliminating Stray Dogs”
Gaddafi has also shot down a civilian Libyan airliner over Libya killing about 150 passengers. Bizarrely he had given the doomed flight a similar flight number to the Lockerbie airliner. This atrocity was also committed on the anniversary of the Lockerbie airliner.
Abu Sleem prison massacre where he ordered the killing of over 1200 political prisoners
The HIV infection breakout in Benghazi. Over 500 children where effected because the sterilization equipment were malfunctioning.
Gaddafi waged pointless wars in Chad and Uganda where over 20,000 Libyans died. In addition, Gaddafi supplied chemical weapons to the late Somalian dictator Ziad Berri which caused thousands of deaths.
The destruction of the mausoleum (in Benghazi) of Omar Mukhtar and the removal of his remains to be buried in a remote Oasis which was an act of desecration to the national pride.
The act of entertaining and handing out euro’s to hundreds of selected young Italian women in Rome so he could preach to them the green book ideology and convert them to his version of Islam. To add insult to injury, upon his return to Libya Gaddafi publicly insulted and attacked a couple of Libyan women that he caught begging outside Tripoli central mosque (Moulia Mohamed) after the Friday prayer.
The declaration of war on Switzerland for arresting one of his sons and his wife for beating up the domestic staff.
The demolition of several historically listed buildings in downtown Tripoli such as the parliament and our foreign ministry.
The use of Libyan women as so called revolutionary nuns as personal bodyguards.
The total disregard of the teachings (Sunna) of the prophet Muhammad and his failed attempts at altering the Quranic text.
The forced military training of very young male and female students.
The peculiar unwritten law of forbidding the mention of the names of any Libyan official by the national media accept those of himself and immediate members of his family. In football no names of players were allowed to be mentioned except that of his son because Gaddafi regarded stardom as a political crime.
His continuous efforts to rewrite Libyan history according to his twisted personal ideology and personal grandiose.
The abolishment of the Libyan constitution (compiled by a team of leading international jurists) which symbolized the smooth birth of Libyan independence and its national sovereignty as voted for by the general assembly of the UN. Gaddafi continued to rule Libya without a constitution until the present day.
According to the UN development surveys and other international organizations publications Libya’s development indicators perform dismally.
Gaddafi’s extensive liaison with colourful African witchcraft doctors and voodoo priests, arguably leading to his ultimate act of eccentricity proclaiming himself Africa’s King of Kings. Commentators and political analysts continue to struggle to accommodate this with his brand of revolutionary socialism.