"Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The General National Council has announced a new name for the country Mummar Qaddafi called the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the name he gave it when he dissolved the republic in 1977. The new official name is now "The State of Libya." However, that name may be changed again with the adoption of a new constitution.
By any name, Libya is still struggling for stability and control after the revolution completely overthrew the repressive state that ran a country with few other civil or political organizations for more than 40 years.
For example, the Libya Herald is reported Wednesday that the murder rate in Libya has soared by more than 500% in two years. The number of murders in 2010, the last year before the uprising, was 87, in 2012, it was 525. Other crimes have increased in a similar manner with thefts from shops and offices increasing from 143 to 783, a 448% increase. Thefts from private homes saw an increase of 30% and car jackings have also increased.
It should go without saying that there are criminal elements in any country that will seek to take advantage of any breakdown in law and order. It should also be clear that no state can be overthrown without some temporary disruption of the state mechanisms of law enforcement. Those mechanisms are inevitably so integrated with the mechanisms of state repression that it is largely impossible to take down one without disrupting the other. Such a crime wave should be considered one of the birth pangs of a new society.
The one saving grace to these statistics is that even with this increase, which is expected to be temporary, it is much lower than in many other places. Chicago, IL had 506 homicides in 2012, almost the same as Libya in the year after the repressive government was overthrown, even though Chicago has less than half the population of Libya. Does that mean that the United States should be considered a "failed state?"
The murder rate in Libya is nothing like that of another country already a dozen years into a revolutionary makeover. Venezuela, population 29 million, saw more than 19,000 murders last year as the Chavez government grapples with a crime rate that has made his country one of the most dangerous places in the world. That is a murder rate ten times what Libya has suffer in its first year of revolutionary government.
Remembering back to the very beginning of the Libya Revolution, The Libyan Youth Movement published the personal history of the early days as seen through the eyes of a British woman, Sandra James, who has been married to a Libyan for 31 years and lived in Tripoli for the past 23 years where she raised six children:
Tripoli Under Siege: A Mothers Account Part 1
To be honest, I dont know where to begin. We have been living on the edge, all of my married life. Even in England we couldnt talk openly as there were always Gaddafi Antennas reporting back to Libya on any Libyans who didnt support Gaddafis revolution. Stray dogs they called them.
Anyway at the beginning of February 2011, all the talk was about the uprisings which were going on in Tunisia and Egypt. Everyone wondered whether it would ever happen here in Libya. The truth is, no one really thought the people here would bother to do any thing, as Gaddafi had such a tight grip on security and crushed any one who went against him. If any one grew a beard, prayed Fajr (dawn prayer) in the mosque, showed that they practiced their religion, they were always at risk, that one day, Gaddafi men would pick them up and take them away in the middle of the night, and no one could do any thing about it. If you wanted to find out what had happened to them, you were more likely to face the same fate. If you were lucky and knew some one in security that could help you, you might be able to get some news on your loved one. Some have been locked up for years and years with no trial or charges brought against them with no hope of getting out of prison.
As it happened people were joking about putting on their trainers and going out to protest with their husbands and sons, not really believing that any thing would happen. Little did they realize the blood bath that was about to come.
The date was given for 17th February 2011 for people to go on the streets and protest peacefully for change. But as things have it our brothers in Benghazi started two days before protesting about a lawyer who was representing the people of the Abu Salim Massacre being detained.
As we watched our brothers being shot at and killed, we couldnt believe that the people in power would actually do some thing this, with the rest of the world watching, especially when as they say Gaddafi had brought Libyan from the cold and he wanted better relations with the West.
At that time, before the protest there (14th Feb2011) Gaddafi visited the East of the country to try and say that the people there supported him and they were broadcasting this on state TV. Of course this was all propaganda to fool the Libyan people that every one loved him, and he had every ones support. Looking back on it I think he actually believed the people DID love him!
We just waited to see what was going to happen next, hoping that he would stand down like the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, but not really believing it, as personally, I knew deep inside that he and his sons would fight until the bitter end, and that is in fact what actually happened.
We watched as our brothers and sisters were attacked and killed while burying their dead. Mercenaries going into their homes, killing and raping their women and children, we could see videos of all of this on the Internet , it was really worrying and frightening.
There was no turning back, Gaddaffi had gone too far, sending in mercenaries to kill his own people as he knew most of the Libyan security men couldnt kill their own family members.
Thanks to the internet we were getting to know all this as the world news wasnt really interested in Libya yet. I would go on my Facebook and send out the news of what was happening here in Tripoli, this is where Nour Taha helped me get in contact with someone who could get the news out to the rest of the world , God bless for this.
I did my best to spread the word of what was happening in Libya, through my contact Iyad El Baghdadi. He was willing to get the truth out about what was really happening, and kept every one up to date as events unfolded. I cant thank him enough for his help to me and the Libyan people.
I had to be very careful as the security here were monitoring the internet and social networking sites, so I use to go on line through hotspot so no one could trace my IP address. And I was very careful to hide any tracks I might have made by deleting everything I didnt need and by opening a new anonymous e-mail address. I closed my Facebook account as someone here in Tripoli, a woman, was picked up for writing anti government stuff on Facebook.
17th Feb 2011 Here in Tripoli not much happened, my husband Jamal Tunally went out with my eldest son Mustafa, who didnt believe anything would happen. They met Umsadek Tunally, Jamals cousin in the Green Square.
On Friday the 18th, the men went to the prayer and people were talking about what was happening in Benghazi and said things had to change. The Imams of Mosques were given sermons to read to tell the people it was against their religion to go out and protest ( well they would say that , wouldnt they). The problem is the Imams were in a very difficult position, if they went against the government , they would be picked up and carted off to prison or taught a lesson and sent back home.
My daughters and I were waiting at home for any news of what was going on; whether people were going to up rise or not.
We heard that there was a riot in Igdaidah prison, we tried to get any information about this by ringing any one we knew who lived in the area. The men went over to see what was going on , but were stopped and turned back saying it was not safe.
Notes from my diary
Friday 18-2-11 Tripoli
Prisoners let out of Igdaidah prison in staged riot, prisoners given money and freedom to support Gadaffi and attack any demonstrators. Talk is of 7,000 criminals.
City not safe.
Saturday 19-2-11 Benghazi
Benghazi, 55 killed by mortar attack, but people fought back and have taken the barracks, Africans seen dead.
Saturday Evening 19-2-11 Tripoli
Tajoura is out and they are firing live ammo and tear gas used.
Fishloom are out as well,, security shooting live ammo at civilians, 4 reported dead. .
Zuwadhamani, people could hear .gun shoots.
11 Hadash ulioo on fire protestors in the streets 12.00am
Update Sunday 20-2-11 2.21pm
Misrata 14 killed
Tajoura 2killed 2 in intensive care
Movement in centre of Tripoli.
It was so stressful! No one could eat or sleep, too much was happening!
During this time I used to go out with my husband and son to take photos of what had happened. The Peoples hall in Gergarish war burnt up, sign posts everywhere of Gaddaffis pictures were either torn down or burnt. Of course there was a massive clean-up campaign to try and hide the extent of what went on to their own people as well as to the outside world. We had to be careful when photographing, that no one saw what we were up to, or they would certainly take us away. My husband was a bit worried about me doing this, as they might consider me a spy working for the British!
Tajoura also was like a battle ground right from the very beginning. As we made our way through the center of town we could see many buildings had been attacked and burnt, anything to do with Gaddafi, torn down. Bricks and stones were everywhere and make shift barricades of old cars , fridges, trucks of palm trees, anything they could use across the roads.
They had many shuhadah, but they never gave in and it was hard for the security to control the inside of the town, they could only patrol the main streets and high ways.
The inside of Tajoura was in the hands of its people!
20th February 2011 was a day I will never forget.
My husband went to the Supreme Court where people gathered to see their family members that were held. Here, they were turned away, but at the same time they were surrounded by revolutionary guards who looked like they would shoot at any kind of movement. One guy told them that they didnt want any trouble and it was better for the people to go home. The crowd decided to play safe it and leave for now.
Later in the afternoon, I went out with my husband to the same area. Things were very tense, with young boys standing around in groups, just waiting for something to happen.
Armed police were everywhere.
As the situation in Tripoli looked like it was going to get a lot worse, especially as my husband saw a black mercenary in Ben Ashour area looking like he was ready to shot at the least provocation. We decided to visit his mother who lives in Ben Ashour. she had just had an operation to her leg in Tunisia and was confined to her bed, we decided to bring her and his sister home with us for their own safety until things settled down. That was a very trying time for all of us, trying to look after everyone, keeping everyone fed and happy and trying not to worry about the men outside!
Tripoli was very tense!
In the evening people started to gather and shout slogans about getting rid of the regime, Mustafa came home and told Jamal and Yusef what was going on and they decided to join them.
They made their way down Mezran Street towards the Green Square. On their way the protesters were tearing down posters of Gaddafi and any green flags they saw.
As they got closer to the Green Square they met with resistance from Gaddafis security who started shooting at the protesters, many young lives were lost that night. The brave youth fought on only with metal bars, pieces of wood, knives anything they could use to protect themselves.
They made their way to the Green Square where they fought bravely. On the way there, Jamal rang me up, and I could hear the sound of gun fire very loud, the sound of bullets whizzing past their heads. I was calling my sister-in-law , who lives next door to me, from my daughter s bedroom window, telling her what was going on , we couldnt believe it.
Its amazing looking back on it, how they actually survived that night.
Young men died in front of him as he was speaking to me. Unbelievable! One boy was shot , taking the top of his head off with an anti aircraft gun. At least 10 young men lost their lives in front of my husband that night. Others shot through the chest , making huge holes in them , blood everywhere. The memory of him on the phone to me explaining what was going on in front of him will stay with me for the rest of my life!
Of course me and my daughter in law Mai, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, and youngest daughter Nusaybah, were on tender hooks during the whole time, just waiting for any news, hoping to God that they were alright.
After a little while Jamal rang again ecstatic, shouting Allahu Akbar, that they had liberated the Green Square, anything that represented Gaddaffi was torn down or burnt, loads of people came out to see what had happened, they thought they had won the battle as my husband rang me up and said they were free, and wanted to pray Fajr in the Green Square. Little did he realize that Gaddafis security were organizing themselves and came back with 14.5 mm anti aircraft guns and were shooting to kill. At first, people thought they were just trying to scare them, until men were falling down in front of them, many shot right through the head, others in the chest. Many more died that night!
They had to leave as it would be suicide to try and fight heavily armed men with no weapons whatsoever.
Yusef, my second eldest son, took one of his friends to the central hospital who had joined the protesters that night in the Green Square, he was shot in the leg and had about two or three inches of flesh shot away from it. He rang me in a very bad state in tears saying that so many young men had been killed, that no one was left. He couldnt believe what he was witnessing.
Of course any one that was in the hospital had to get out quick as security went round to pick up any one who was there and we never heard news of them again. Plus anyone who treated them could not speak about anything as they done a cover up job and took TV state cameramen over there to try and show the people it was all rumors and nothing was wrong, but of course we knew differently and in Libya you cant hide anything!
During the night I was keeping in contact with close friends and family making sure they were alright, waiting for the men to return. Fatimah said she could hear a lot of gun fire. She lives in central Tripoli, so throughout the war, she was always able to hear the bombs and gun battles going on. She went on the roof to try and see what was going on . I shouted at her and made sure she didnt do that again as she could have got hit by stray bullets. People were finding bullets on their balconies and even inside their homes, that was how bad it was.
One friend told me her husband was going to go to the Green Square but I had to warn her that the security was there and not safe, and that our men were coming home. That was about 3 am the next morning.
Oh, what a relief to see my family home again and for now, safe!
Cant sleep More...
My own account of the events of that night, February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night, first published here, was also republished by the Libyan Youth Movement. I don't mind that they published my work without asking permission, and this wasn't the first time. In fact I'm flattered that they have found my writing useful to their revolution, I just wish they had given the credit where is was due. Instead they said:
The Daily Kos Has put together a great time line of February 21st. This is a MUST read.
Since that simple attempt just to consolidate this long list into a separate diary immediately drew negative comments from my "fan club" that had nothing to do with that list, I'll revert back to the old fashion way.
These are my articles on the Libyan Revolution:
Bani Walid Revisited
BREAKING: Libya | BaniWalid falls!
US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens Murder Timeline
Libya: This is what democracy looks like - protesters take over HQ of Ansar al-Sharia
My answer to Secretary Clinton Re: US Death in Libya
Women and the Libyan Revolution
The Left and the Arab Spring
Libya's elected congress to take power today
The Elections and Libya's Violent Militias
#Libya at the crossroads: The ballot or the bullet
Is Libya better off than it was?
Libyan Elections to be held July 7th
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Libyan High Court strikes down anti-free speech law
Where should Libya's Saif Qaddafi be tried?
MSM plays Hankey Panky with Libya
Qaddafi lies live on after him
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Libya's Qaddafi helped US & Israel against Iran in Olympic Games
Why is Russia demanding NATO boots on the ground in Libya?
#LyElect Libyans register to vote 1st time in 60 years
Libya's Revolution: How We Won - The Internationale in the 21st Century
Good News from Libya
On Libya & Glenn Greenwald: Are the anti-interventionists becoming counter-revolutionaries?
UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya
Libya in the news today
Amnesty International on Libya again
The Current Situation in Libya
Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation