On Friday, I spoke for the first time with the libertarian radio host Ernest Hancock, on his show Freedom’s Phoenix, about the revolution in Libya, following the publication of my recent articles, Revolution in Libya: Protestors Respond to Gaddafi’s Murderous Backlash with Remarkable Courage; US and UK Look Like the Hypocrites They Are, The Year of Revolution: The “War on Tyranny” Replaces the “War on Terror” and Is This the Endgame for Gaddafi’s Murderous Regime in Libya?
This was a fascinating interview, available below in two parts, via YouTube, and in it I had the opportunity to express my hope that, if given the opportunity, through the fall of the Gaddafi regime, the Libyan people will be able to rebuild their country, even though the necessary institutions are less evident in Libya than in Tunisia and Egypt, given the tribal nature of the country and Gaddafi’s obsession with accruing all power to himself and his family.
Even so, the fall of Gaddafi is not yet assured. The dictator made a defiant appearance in Tripoli yesterday, in which he vowed to “open all the arsenals,” and his security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters after prayers on Friday. On the February 17 Voices audioboo channel, a woman in Tripoli described how government forces pursued protesters into their homes to kill them, and also claimed that the dead had been buried immediately by Gaddafi’s soldiers in an attempt to cover up their atrocities.Nevertheless, the Guardian reported today that anti-government protests were continuing across Libya, and that in Tripoli “protesters are reported to have taken control of some areas of the city.”
In addition, defections from the regime “seemed to be accelerating,” according to the Guardian, which noted, “Envoys to Portugal and Sweden renounced Gaddafi, with the ambassador to Lisbon, Ali Ibrahim Emdored, telling AP he was leaving ‘due to the killing of my people by this fascist regime,’” and in Geneva, the Libyan delegation to the UN Human Rights Council (which stated that it “strongly condemns the recent gross and systematic human rights violations committed in Libya”, and called for Libya’s membership to be revoked) asked for a moment of silence in the chamber to “honour this revolution.” One envoy, Adel Shaltut, whose contribution “drew thunderous applause,” declared, “We in the Libyan mission have categorically decided to serve as representatives of the Libyan people and their free will. We only represent the Libyan people.”
In my interview, I was particularly concerned to express to Ernest my belief that, if Gaddafi falls, countless capable Libyans, currently in exile, will, if possible, be delighted to return to their home country to help rebuild it, and also to express my hope that, with no Islamist bogeyman for the West to pin its fears on, and to cynically incorporate into the “War on Terror,” as has been the case since the 9/11 attacks (and with particular cynicism in Libya), the globally connected young people, and the professional people who are already beginning to reshape Benghazi and other towns and cities, will be able to construct a new Libya, and will not be prevented from doing so by Western powers who will end up sacrificing them yet again, supporting dictators to protect their precious business interests and their distorted security concerns.
Ernest was not hopeful about this, but although the international community has been generally preoccupied with evacuating its citizens from Libya, condemnation of the regime — however hypocritical in some cases — has been reasonably swift. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, was the first world leader to openly demand Gaddafi’s capitulaltion, the European Union agreed to freeze the assets of those connected to the regime and to impose an arms embargo, President Obama issued an executive order seizing assets and blocking any deals regarding property in the US belonging to Gaddafi or his sons, and made a statement specifying that the measures were targeted against the Gaddafi government and not the wealth of the Libyan people, and today the UN Security Council will meet again to decide what action to take against Gaddafi, whch, as the Guardian explained, “could include an arms embargo against the government, a travel ban and asset freeze against the Libyan ruler, his relatives and close allies, and referring the violent crackdown to the International Criminal Court so it can investigate possible crimes against humanity.”
The Guardian also reported that the British, the leading hypocrites when Gaddafi came onside in the “War on Terror,” as I explained in my article, Revolution in Libya: Protestors Respond to Gaddafi’s Murderous Backlash with Remarkable Courage; US and UK Look Like the Hypocrites They Are, were “contacting senior Libyan regime figures directly to persuade them to desert Muammar Gaddafi or face trial alongside him for crimes against humanity.”
My hope — as it has been since the Tunisian people first rose up against their dictator, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, followed by the Egyptian people against Hosni Mubarak — is that the hunger of the Libyan people for a new life is so strong, and involves so many people, that backsliding and betrayals on the part of the West will not be possible, and that we really are seeing the beginning of a new world order — one shaped by the people, and not by the corporations, bankers and governments who have done so much to oppress the people of the Middle East.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I’m sharing this now.
Joe Anbody wrote:
Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:
“My hope is … that we really are seeing the beginning of a new world order — one shaped by the people, and not by the corporations, bankers and governments” — I hope so!
I am not entirely sure that I have that much faith in humans though. It seems like the lure of power and wealth are so strong, that most people are unable to resist the temptation of becoming corrupt. The best hope are democratic systems where ideally there would be checks and balances. But look at Guantanamo, even in the West, our own checks and balances aren’t always effective in stopping injustice; especially when ‘we’ are hiding behind a facade of justice, in order to perpetrate any acts we deem suitable at the moment.
I will continue to hope, it is better than the alternative – despair.
Thanks, everyone. And Tashi, I’m not sure I believe categorically in the hope — is it the hype of hope?
But my thoughts are only with the people, and tonight, looking at footage of Tunisians marching and protesting, I saw only my brothers and sisters in humanity, and their hopes and their wishes, and I can’t be cynical about them while there are still possibilities …
Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:
They are certainly deserving of everything good and wonderful whether it be called hope or possibilities
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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