Sunday, February 20, 2011

The crackdown in Libya and the end of tyranny

UPDATE (11:06 pm) According to Aljazeera and The Guardian, the protests have spread to Tripoli. In Benghazi, a military unit has allegedly joined the protesters. And Gaddafi's son is warning of imminent civil war. The crackdown continues, but all the Gaddafi regime has is brute force. It's the protesters who have justice, and the righteousness of a noble cause, on their side.


Updating my post from yesterday, the Libyan "government" (and I put that in quotes because Gaddafi's regime is really just an oppressive tyranny) continues to crack down on opposition demonstrations, even targeting funerals.

Here's the BBC:

Details have emerged of huge casualty figures in the Libyan city of Benghazi, where troops have launched a brutal crackdown on protesters.

More than 200 people are known to have died, doctors say, with 900 injured.

The most bloody attacks were reported over the weekend, as funeral marches were said to have come under machine-gun and heavy weapons fire.

One doctor, speaking amid the sound of fresh gunfire on Sunday, told the BBC that "a real massacre" had happened.

Human Rights Watch says at least 173 people have been killed in Libya since demonstrations began on Wednesday.

And here's the NYT:

Libyan security forces opened fire again Sunday on residents of Benghazi as they attended a funeral procession for the dozens of protesters killed there the day before, and quickly crushed three smaller uprisings in working-class suburbs of the capital, Tripoli.


The escalating violence in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the center of the protests, appeared to mark a decisive turn in the protests that have shaken Libya, a North African nation rich in oil.

The shooting at the funeral, where the number of casualties could not immediately be confirmed, reinforced what seems to have become a deadly cycle in a city where thousands have gathered in antigovernment demonstrations: security forces fire on funeral marches, killing more protesters, creating more funerals. 

As I wrote yesterday, while there appears to be a certain domino effect going on, with anti-regime protests in one country picking up on protests elsewhere, it's not like this will be an easy transition to liberal democracy. What has happened in Egypt, where it's still not clear what will happen under military rule, or in Bahrain, where there is reason for optimism, may not be replicated elsewhere, including in Libya. These regimes are responding in vastly different ways to efforts to overthrow them, and some, like Gaddafi's, are apparently resorting to extreme violence to thwart them.

Just consider how long it took Europe to throw off the yoke of tyranny and oppression, albeit long before the days of Facebook and Twitter, and even then much of Europe was under authoritarian fascist rule even towards the end of the last century. We must stand behind the courageous men and women who are standing up against the regimes that for decades (if not centuries, in terms of social and political oppression) are kept them down, but we cannot expect meaningful change overnight.

I am encouraged by what I am seeing, by the reports I am reading, but I realize that it's going to take a long time, during which much blood will be spilled, before liberty, democracy, and human rights triumph in places where they have few, if any, roots. It is inspiring, though, what we are witnessing, and for once there is hope for a better future.

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  • It looks like the people are taking sides. With all of this unrest throughout the Middle East, and even our own unrest in the United States, we can easily be heading for BIG trouble.

    By Blogger joe six-pack, at 7:48 PM  

  • Libya free yourselves from´╗┐ autocracy. It will not be easy as the autocratic government is ruthless even against unarmed peaceful protesters. The global cabal have ignited their plan to restructure the mideast, the price of oil is going up and the mideast´╗┐ is getting a face lift. Whatever the "leaders" say, believe the opposite. They are only there to deceive us.

    By Anonymous Atlanta Roofing, at 8:48 PM  

  • Democracy usually has to be fought for, but as history will show, revolution does not always work the way the people want it to. Who knows what the future will bring? Only time will tell.

    By Anonymous Heather Hadden, at 3:40 PM  

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