It is easy to think that the Libyan people are not ready for democracy and that some sort of Islamic emirate would emerge on the border of Europe. Every tyrant in the
Middle East is repeating the same excuse and so far we have not seen any such emergence. Quite the contrary; where sectarian divisions threatened to destabilize the Egyptian revolution the people came out in a huge show of force and solidarity to counter them. The Libyan people have made it clear that they want a democratic, peaceful and dignified existence. They do not want to trade one dictatorship for another. They have braved the bullets and the bombs demanding nothing more than a State that is representative of its people.
I would love to believe that people power alone will prevail, but this regime has shown neither compassion nor even the slightest hesitation in using heavy weapons on innocent civilians. Gaddafi now bombards the people from the land, sea and air. It seems absurd, in light of the images emerging from Gaddafi’s war on the Libyan people, that we still find ourselves having to plead their case. They are being massacred by a madman whose grip on power is based solely on being better armed and on the number of times he can say `Al Qaida’ in a single interview on western media outlets. True, the revolutionaries have armed themselves with whatever they can find, but only after being brutalized by the regime. Hundreds died before a single shot was fired in defense.
The world must now ask itself if freedom and democracy are exclusively the rights of citizens of the West, or human rights in the truest sense of the term. A failure to act may indeed prolong the reign of the King of Kings of Africa, but more worrying will be the fact that the Libyan people will remember the day Gaddafi bombed them with war machines manufactured in the West, and used the financially driven media machine of the West to claim he was fighting against terrorists. For now the Libyan people still believe that the revolutionaries will be victorious and a new democratic nation will emerge from the hell that Gaddafi has created, but belief does not protect the people from bombs, gunfire, or the wrath that Gaddafi will continue to unleash if he remains in office.
Libya is a rich country in North Africa. It has been ruled for the last 42 years by a totalitarian regime run by Moammar Gaddafi, following a military coup he led against the Libyan Monarchy in 1969. The population of Libya is 6 Million. Since the coup in 1969, the majority of Libyan people suffered poverty, oppression and many were tortured and/or disappeared in the hands of the revolutionary committees that Gaddafi set up to control the people and to keep him in power. Gaddafi claims he does not rule the country and yet, all decisions in the country are made by him and he squanders Libyan wealth to promote himself worldwide at the expense of Libyan people. He abolished the constitution, criminalized the opposition, destroyed the Libyan infrastructure and favored his children to lead the main governmental organizations. Each of his sons is unimaginably wealthy and has a militia that protects him.
During Gaddafi’s regime, he has inflicted terrible damage on Libyans and on others. A short list of his crimes would include the following list.
· He recruited secondary school children and untrained ordinary Libyan civilians to the army to participate in wars in Uganda and Chad, where thousands of men and women died, for no legitimate cause.
· He supported terrorists around the world and provided them with money and arms.
· He ordered the Lockerbie bombing where more than 250 people died.
· He ordered the bombing of a Libyan plane at the anniversary of Lockerbie bombing, where 168 people died, as an attempt to blame it on the United States.
· He ordered the mass murder of 1270 political prison inmates in 1996, it was carried by his men within 2 hours, hid the news from their relatives for 13 years during which they were bringing food and clothes to their loved ones, only to be given false death certificates in 2009, without the bodies, or explaining the cause of death.
· He is behind injecting HIV virus in 400 children in a teaching hospital in Benghazi. This was done to blame the UN sanctions on Libya for the lack of proper medical care.
· He is behind many disappearances and assassinations of Libyans and non-Libyans inside and outside Libya, merely for voicing their opposition to him and his regime.
· He outlawed political parties and any form of NGO’s in the country.
· He nationalized all kinds of businesses. There was no chance for free enterprise.
· He outlawed free press. All kinds of media were owned by government.
· He outlawed public gathering or any kind of protest outside government control.
· He limited private ownership. A Libyan can own only one car, one house, one farm, and he cannot employ any other person outside his family.
I believe that the future of Libya is bright because Libya is rich now, and will be richer without Gaddafi, so that its wealth can be shared more fairly. Libya has no ethnic or religious reasons for divisions, Libyans have been united for centuries. Extremism cannot thrive in Libya because Libyan people are moderate in their way of living and so there would be no natural support for Al Qaida. Al Qaida did not exist in Libya during Gaddafi’s regime, and I do not see a chance that it will exist in a democratic atmosphere.
A letter to The Irish Times