Saturday, February 19, 2011

Libya clamps down

There may be reason for cautious optimism in Bahrain, not to mention in Egypt and Tunisia, but Libya has so far been responding to anti-government (and specifically anti-Gaddafi) protests with bloodthirsty violence:

The number of people killed in three days of protests in Libya has risen to 84, according to the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.

The main focus of the demonstrations against Col Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule has been the second city Benghazi, where security forces are said to have attacked protesters again on Saturday.

On Friday, one hospital in the city reported 35 deaths.

State media have warned of retaliation if the unrest continues.

All the more reason not to get ahead of ourselves in celebrating the coming of liberal democracy to a part of the world that doesn't exactly have much (or rather any) history of it. There is a certain domino effect going on, with pro-democracy movements in one country learning from, and building, movements in other -- made easier with social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter -- but we do need to treat these movements, and these events, on a case-by-case, country-by-country basis, particularly because the tyrants/governments who are being challenged are responding in vastly different ways to those who would overthrow them.

It will be especially difficult, it seems, in Libya, where, unlike in Egypt, shots are being fired, but that means there's all the more reason to show our support for the demonstrators, and to press our own governments to do all they can do to persuade/compel Gaddafi to pull back.

(For more, see Aljazeera's live blog.)

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  • Shooting protesters just shows how brutal and absolute Gaddafi┬┤s regime is. What we witness here is anything but cold blooded murder by those who try to hold onto their power.

    By Anonymous Julie Kinnear, at 1:04 PM  

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