Libyan protesters plead to Obama and the world not to be ignored
Libyans are painfully aware of the fact that their country does not attract nearly the same level of interest as Egypt or Iran, except perhaps when it comes to the eccentricities of their notoriously flamboyant dictator. This, despite the fact that the Qaddafi regime has been in power significantly longer than nearly any other autocratic system, during which time it has proved itself among the world’s most brutal and incompetent. Thus, from the moment a group of Libyans inside Libya — taking a cue from their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors — announced plans for their own day of protest on Feb. 17, Libyan activists outside the country have been working tirelessly to get the word out, circulate audio and video, and pressure media outlets to report on Libya. If the Libyan protesters are ignored, the fear is that Qaddafi — a man who appears to care little what the rest of the world thinks of him — will be able to seal the country off from foreign observers, and ruthlessly crush any uprising before it even has a chance to begin. Eyewitness reports to this effect are already trickling in from Libya, and the death toll appears to be slowly mounting. Regrettably, international attention has thus far been minimal. (Najla Abdurrahman)
Libyan troops attempt to put down unrest in east
Soldiers sought to put down unrest in Libya’s second city on Friday and opposition forces said they were fighting troops for control of a nearby town after crackdowns which Human Rights Watch said killed 24 people.
Protests inspired by the revolts that brought down long-serving rulers of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia have led to violence unprecedented in Muammar Gaddafi’s 41 years as leader of the oil exporting country.
The New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said that according to its sources inside Libya, security forces had killed at least 24 people over the past two days. Exile groups have given much higher tolls which could not be confirmed. (Reuters)
Libyan opposition groups claim they control several cities
Anti-Gaddafi demonstrators have taken over several cities in eastern Libya but have suffered scores of deaths, according to exiled opposition groups in London.
Government troops have withdrawn from al-Bayda, the scene of earlier confrontations, and protesters have blocked the runway to prevent military reinforcements arriving, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya maintains.
Mohamad Ali Abdalla, the deputy director of the NFSL, said:
I was told that there were 13 deaths in the city of al-Bayda alone last night and six more in Benghazi.
In al-Bayda, the city has been taken over and protesters are dismantling the runway to stop any military planes landing.
In total, there have been 30 deaths in Benghazi since demonstrations began on January 15th. Some of those who died were injured citizens who had been taken to al-Jala hospital in Benghazi.
Members of the revolutionary committee were shooting the injured who were brought in. I was told this by a nurse in al-Jala Hospital.
The government’s revolutionary committee headquarters have been captured in other places, the FNSL claimed. In Ajdabiya, in north-eastern Libya, demonstrations were in charge of the city.
There have been few demonstrations further west nearer to the capital, Tripoli. In the western mountains, nearer to Tunisia, protesters have also been out on the streets.
Several opposition sites have reported that Gaddafi’s regime has been relying on French-speaking soldiers, or “mercenaries” drawn from neighbouring Chad to crack down on the demonstrations. (The Guardian)