Libya Protests: Gaddafi, the Revolt, and Fathi Eljahmi
As the revolt in Libya rages on, the brother of a famous political dissident, who died while imprisoned by Gaddafi’s government, tells his story and why he is so proud. Plus, see images from Libya’s streets published on Twitter. Warning: Extremely graphic.
My country is ablaze. Libya is burning with the anger of a people abused and repressed for 41 years by the cruelty and stupidity of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. Having seen the successful overthrow of the tyrannies in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, Libyans have dared to ask why we too should not be free? With immense courage and defiance, we have peacefully confronted Gadaffi, who responded with extreme brutality. With every passing day, this evil man spills the blood of Libyans like water as he did in the past to countless others.
Our uprising is not only against Gaddafi, but also a rejection of the international community’s attempt to rehabilitate him and its growing acceptance that his son, Saif al-Islam Gadaffi, would succeed him. Colonel Gadaffi has received prominent foreign visitors, such as then British prime minister, Tony Blair, and then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Not to mention, fearful of losing Libyan business, the British government released Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man responsible for the Lockerbie massacre. The Libyan government then gave him a lavish home- coming in August 2009.
• Full coverage of the Mideast uprisings • Stars Who Perform for DictatorsBy contrast, on May 5, 2009, the Libyan government flew my comatose brother, Fathi Eljahmi, to a hospital in Jordan where he died. Fathi had been confined to a filthy hospital room and deprived of medication for close to five years. Fathi returned home in the cargo hold of a passenger jet. Then, as if to prove how blind foreigners are, the UN then put Libya on the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.
• Muammar Gaddafi's 25 Strangest MomentsWe Libyans were not so easily fooled. We knew that Gadaffi had wasted our resources in wars across Africa, wars that have claimed thousands of lives. We knew that Gadaffi was involved in organizing terrorism—after all, he terrorized us for 41 years. For good reason Libyans attacked the “Green Book” Center dedicated to Gadaffi’s main ideological work. Across Libya people lack jobs, decent healthcare, and well-equipped schools for their children. For years Gadaffi told us that we were suffering because of international sanctions. Yet there was never a shortage of money to pay for the study of Gadaffi’s nonsensical ramblings masquerading as a book.
Gadaffi has fought like a cornered animal, but his end is close.
We also knew how other Arab leaders protected Gadaffi. Hosni Mubarak turned Egypt into Libya’s lifeline under sanctions. Although this helped the Libyan people, Mubarak also helped Gadaffi remain in power. On December 10, 1993, UN human rights day, the Egyptian government kidnapped Libyan dissident and human rights activist Mansour Kikhia from a Cairo hotel. Mr Kikhia was handed over to Libya and “disappeared.”
Gadaffi has fought like a cornered animal, but his end is close. We have struggled knowing that if he defeated our revolution, then the vengeance he would extract would be many times worse than his four-decade long tyranny. Despite our isolation we know that we have better options.
We do not just want human rights, we also want human dignity. Once we are free, please help us build a new Libya we can be proud of.
Ali Elhushi Younis Eljahmi is a Libyan Engineer who lives in Libya.