By Anirban Sen
It was during the early days of February of the year. Libya found the headlines of news agencies all over the globe. Inspired by pro-democracy protests that ousted the rulers of its neighbors Tunisia and Egypt, and other parts of the Arab world, Libya experienced a full-scale revolt beginning in February 2011 to overthrow the despotic regime of Colonel Gaddafi. By 20 February, the unrest had spread to Tripoli and quickly turned into a general mutiny. The Libyan rebels were backed by a section of their army and a number of political groups like, National Conference of the Libyan Opposition, National Front for the Salvation of Libya and Committee for Libyan National Action in Europe.
By March, 2011a big part of Libya got tipped out of Gaddafi’s control. With a certain defeat in sight, Colonel Gaddafi, swore to “die a martyr” if necessary in his fight to maintain power and went offensive. In doing so, like any other autocratic ruler, he let loose brutal terror to rout the rebels who were fighting for democracy.
The pro-Gaddafi troop barraged Zawiyah, a town, 30 miles from Tripoli, with aircrafts and tanks and eventually seized it. To quote political experts, “It was a level of brutality not yet seen in the conflict.”
Gaddafi, in numerous public appearances, intimidated to wipe out the protest movement. The reports by Al Jazeera and many other news broadcasting agencies mentioned that Gaddafi was arming his militiamen to exterminate the protesters and defectors who went against his regime in Tripoli.
Gaddafi’s such despotic crackdown drew overwhelming condemnation. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council; condemned Gaddafi for infringing international law. In an unprecedented action, Libya, on request of its own delegation to the UN, was expelled outright by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Economic sanctions were imposed by countries like the United States of America Australia, Canada and the United Nations Security Council. The UNSC also voted to refer Gaddafi and other government officials to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
On 26 February 2011, a national council headed by Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil, former Justice Minister of Libya was set up to govern the areas of Libya under rebel control. This step is considered to be first serious effort to organize a substantial resistance to the Gaddafi rule. The spokesman for the council is Hafiz Ghoga, a human rights lawyer. The council, which recognizes Tripoli as its capital, is at present based in Benghazi.
On 10 March 2011, France became the first state to recognize the National Libyan Council as the Libya’s justifiable government.
India abstains from voting against Libya
Amidst of protests and condemnations even by a section of the Saudi Arabian nations, this is what our “so-celebrated” largest democracy of the world did.
On 17 March 2011 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 (2011) with a 10–0 vote and five abstentions, thereby sanctioning the enforcement of a no-fly zone on Libya and the use of “all means necessary” to protect civilians within that nation. The authorized member states which abstained from voting were Brazil, China, Germany, India and the Russian Federation.
The decision of India to favor Gaddafi was shocking to many. To us, it was however, not any “bolt from the blue”. India had always sided with dictators, be it Gaddafi, Saddam Hussain or the Burmese Junta. This is because the “democratic” India doesn’t believe in a democratic set-up and always resort to oppression and terror to crush voices of dissent. Its policy to rein in the rebels in Kashmir and the seven North Eastern states, namely Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya is well known.
In the tribal belts of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar and Maharashtra it has launched an inhuman assault on the revolutionaries (termed as “Maoists”) and has declared an unilateral war on them, which is officially called “Operation Green Hunt”. Yes, India is another nation that has declared war on its own people. The Indian armed forces and the state henchmen resort to anything to stifle a protest…loot, razing and setting fire to dwelling houses, killings in the name of “encounter”, mass murders, gang rapes, illegal detentions, torturing in police or army custodies, kidnap and every possible action that infringe human rights. Several draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 prevail here that legitimizes all atrocities done by the Indian army and snatch off the right to life of any citizen.
So, it was quite obvious that an out and out terrorist government like India which is so used to commit crimes against humanity would find camaraderie in people like Colonel Gaddafi.
Gadfafi declares ceasefire only to violate it
Just after the imposition of “no fly zone”, the government of Gaddafi stated that “Libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and the stoppage of all military operations”.
However, this announcement was followed by bombing in Banghazi by the Libyan warplanes. Despite the claim of ceasefire, there was no stoppage of hostility on the insurgent strongholds.
On 19th March 2011, France was the first to secure the no-fly zone when its military jets entered Libyan airspace on a scouting mission indicating attacks on enemy targets. The united military action code named as “Operation Odyssey Dawn” by the United States to enforce ceasefire commenced on the same day. The other allies of this mission are United Kingdom and France.
India criticizes military action
India, so far, silent on every ruthless measure of Gaddafi to devastate the Libyans fighting for democracy that has so far killed more than 8,000 civilians, came out with a note of criticism against the ongoing military intervention to enforce ceasefire. On 20/3/ 2011 its Ministry of External Affairs regretted the air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition forces in Libya .“India views with grave concern the continuing violence, strife and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. It regrets the air strikes that are taking place… said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Colonel Gaddafi at a glance
- Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi commonly referred to as Colonel Gaddafi, has been the leader of Libya since a military coup on 1 September 1969 where he overthrew King Idris of Libya and established the Libyan Arab Republic. His 42 years in power made him one of the longest-serving rulers in history.
- During the 1970s and 1980s, the Gaddafi’s government was condemned by the Western countries for oppressing internal dissidence, acts of state-sponsored terrorism and assassination of expatriate opposition leaders. He was also criticized for favoritism which cumulated a multi-billion dollar fortune for himself and his family.
- In the year 2006, a website (stopgaddafi.com), was set up which vigorously sought his ouster. The website listed 343 victims of murder and political assassination.
- According to various news sources, Gaddafi engaged his network of diplomats and recruits to eliminate dozens of critics around the world. Between 1980 and 1987, at least 25 such assassinations had been listed by Amnesty International, a frontal organization for protection of human rights.
- Unable to live under the awful regime of Gaddafi, many Libyans sought refuge in the United Kingdom. Gaddafi’s agents became active there. The United Kingdom broke off its relations with Gaddafi after Libyan diplomats shot at ten anti-Gaddafi protesters and killed Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman.
- In the year 1980, one such agent of Gaddafi attempted to assassinate a dissenter named Faisal Zagallai. Faisal was a doctoral student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The bullets partially blinded Zagallai. In the year 1990, another defector was kidnapped and killed just before he was about to receive U.S. citizenship.
- In June 1984 Gaddafi declared that he would persist with such killings even at a time when the dissidents were on pilgrimage in the city of Mecca. One of his schemes of carnage was prevented in August 1984.
- In the year 2004, the inspectors from the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) confirmed that Libya owned a stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gas and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals.
- In 2003, following the ouster of Saddam Hussein by US forces Gaddafi declared that he is in possession of active weapons of mass destruction program.
Mass upheaval against despotic regimes
We are witnessing an extraordinary revolutionary wave of protests and demonstrations. It all began in December, 2010 in the Middle East and North Africa (or the Arab Spring). The uprisings for democracy had taken place in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Syria and Yemen. The news of protests has also flowed in from countries like Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Western Saharan nations.
These protests are not necessarily violent in nature. Rather, the resistances the people are putting up have common method of civil disobedience, strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies. It also includes the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to organize, communicate and raise awareness. But what they face are inhuman state oppression and internet censorship.
We stand by democracy
The Humanists’ Association stands by all democracy seeking rebels of Libya and other nations. We vehemently oppose any attempt by any nation to contain voices of protest through state sponsored atrocities and oppression under the veil to tackle the “gravest internal security threat” or whatever.
Let the rational and sensible civil society from every nook and corner of the globe speak out against state oppression and help humanity in winning the race.