By Nafissa Assed
As the 17th February commemorates the memory of the fallen victims of the Abu Salim prison massacre, when over 1200 prisoners were brutally executed, the 7th April is also known as one of those days that witnessed some of the worst abuses of human rights in Libyan history. On 7th April 1976, Qaddafi ordered the persecution and public execution of Libyan university students who were suspected of opposing the regime. The same month of the same year also commemorates Qaddafi’s physical liquidation campaign against Libyan dissidents inside and outside Libya.
Today I called a family member in Libya and she told me that the living conditions and the level of terror in Tripoli are indescribable. People go to the gas stations, wait for hours, and when their turn comes, they may be unlucky and find none left. There is no money in banks anymore. Every time she goes to the bank, they keep telling her the same thing: that there is no money. People barely go out, and what’s worse is that there are many elderly and babies who must receive weekly treatment in clinics. The critical living conditions of Tripoli are disrupting its economic life gravely, as Malta stopped a fuel ship on its way to west Libya, preventing it from making its delivery in accordance with the UN blockade.
However, Qaddafi’s forces keep giving large sums of money to people who join his heinous forces or go to Bab al-Aziziya and salute Qaddafi outside his fortified compound. In fact, the revolutionaries found some of Qaddafi’s mercenaries in possession of thousands of dollars as a payment to kill Libyans with no mercy. Also, the brigade of Khamis, Qaddafi’s most sadistic son, feeds non-Libyan mercenaries the flesh of dogs, and hits those who refrain from eating it. This video shows how the mercenaries are treated and ordered to shed the blood of the defenseless Libyan civilians.
With the continuous and intense shelling in Misrata by Qaddafi’s thugs, I learned today that one of my cousins who lives in Misrata didn’t make it out of city. Her family hasn’t heard from her since the beginning of March, as the city is completely blocked and isolated with no electricity, no water, and all communications cut off. The saddest part is that my cousin was pregnant in her ninth month and due to deliver her baby by the beginning of March. Her father did his utmost to reach and help her leave Misrata but all his attempts failed. Her father said, “I already consider her a martyr, and if I learned she is alive then that would be a miracle.” She is 28 years old. The wounded Libyans who flee from Misrata keep talking about the ineffable violence and shelling and that there is no corner safe in Misrata to hide from Qaddafi’s brutal forces.
With all this, NATO is not helping the revolutionaries to gain strength on the ground, and coalition airstrikes have destroyed only 30% of Gaddafi’s air defenses. NATO is supposed to destroy defensive Qadaffi positions, infantry, artillery and armor. With soldiers and tanks destroyed from the air the revolutionaries could easily use their own tanks and soldiers to take the vacant terrain and move forward. I wonder if the UN resolution said anything about helping revolutionaries to unshackle cities like Misrata, Zawiya and Zentan from Qaddafi’s vicious forces. The NATO move seems to be fully against the UN resolution by doing more accidental killing against the opposition side but almost nothing to protect the defenseless civilians in Misrata. NATO seems to be incapable in carrying out precise airstrikes. Whatever the reason is, the lying and hypocrisy surrounding this military action is disgusting.
But to look on the bright side, one of the unmentioned gains of the NFZ is saving Libya from watching Qaddafi or Saif’s long speeches about the opposition being part of al-Qaeda – I’m starting to wonder whether or not al-Qaeda is reveiving royalties every time a dictator uses their name in a speech. Neither do we have to hear speeches about hallucinatory pills. In fact, I believe the biggest relief pill that the entire planet can enjoy now is hearing the confirmed news that Gaddafi is dead.
Back to Tripoli. Last Friday, April 1st, security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up anti-regime demonstrations after Friday prayers in Tajura, located in the city’s outskirts. Qaddafi’s officials ordered the international press not to leave the hotel on Friday because it would be too dangerous for them to go out, or better say too shocking for them to witness how Qaddafi’s forces treat bare-handed protestors.
Recent updates confirm that Omar Fathi bin Shatwan, Qaddafi’s former energy minister, has fled to Malta, where he says members of the inner circle want to defect but are afraid for their family’s lives. He also announced that Qaddafi is running out of cash and oil to finance his war against his own people.
The battle is getting harder and more unfair as Libyan revolutionaries survive on dried milk, tuna and dates, while Qaddafi survives on bunkers, mercenaries, slaves and using rape as a war tool. But I know who will survive in the end.