by Randy Short
The grossly distorted news reports paint a picture of a besieged regime about to collapse at any second. Further, the spiritual leader of the Libyan revolution, Muammar Qaddafi, is represented as a hated and unpopular leader. I want to take this time to disabuse all that read my report.
As a member of the Dignity Delegation, a fact-finding group headed by the Honorable Cynthia McKinney, I was able to travel across the western littoral of Libya and see for myself what was happening in the country. Once we drove past the Tunisian frontier, the evidence of support for the Jamahiriya and Muammar Qaddafi was everywhere.
As we drove for six hours, the vast majority of homes had the green flag of the Jamahiriya. Unlike the slick, factory-made red, black and green flags that we see on the news for the Western-backed “opposition,” the green flags of the people were of all types – clearly made by ordinary people wanting to show their support for the Jamahiriya. These flags were on stores, shops, cars and in windows. Some people wore green head wraps, armbands and patches.
All along the roads, people were chanting to those in their cars driving east to Tripoli and west to Tunisia that they supported the Jamahiriya government. Our delegation was curious about this gathering, so we drove back to get a better view of the protest. We drove back to look at the demonstration and did not see adults or government officials scripting their actions. From the time that I witnessed these young people along the road, I saw countless instances of the spontaneity of the Libyan people defying the bombs and perfidy of Western aggression.
The Western media are not telling the world that the corporate punishment of the Libyan people is failing. I had opportunities to speak to Libyans of various ages and class backgrounds and the sentiment was that they did not fear the bombs. The attacks had made them believe more in their Brother Leader Muammar Qaddafi and they did not want him to go into exile. One Libyan man who I got to speak to in the El Khader Hospital asked, “Why don’t people accept the fact that we love Muammar!”
I was standing next to a man named Hashim in a hotel when an explosion took place and the young man, like all the others, chanted “Allu Akhbar” and continued along with their activities. Their faith in God and belief that they are right gives them the courage to face the bombs, determined to fight on.
The bombing only prompts more contempt and disgust at those attacking them. In addition to resentment of the U.S. and NATO, I more than once heard Libyans express a willingness to fight to the bitter end. One young man told me that if the ground forces of the West were sent to Libya, it would be Vietnam II for America and its allies.
Libyans’ faith in God and belief that they are right gives them the courage to face the bombs, determined to fight on.
The Western media fails to relay to the public that the so-called “humanitarian intervention” has imposed corporate suffering on Libyans and hundreds of thousands of guest workers. In January, Tripoli was as clean as a whistle. There was no trash in the gutters and sidewalks because there were plenty of guest workers from other countries in Africa willing to do maintenance work. But Western-backed rebels and supporters murdered, raped and robbed so many guest workers that scores of thousands fled.
One of the greatest ironies of the corporate punishment of the Libyan people is that, as their oil is stolen by the rebels and sold to foreign nations, they have to endure marathon queues to secure gasoline for their cars. I witnessed cars in rows three across and a mile in length waiting to purchase gasoline.
The Libyan people remain proud and in spite of the suffering and bombing, I did not see any homeless people. I did not see hungry people. Tripoli’s shops and stores were full of goods and clothing. There appeared to be meat, fish, fruit and vegetables for sale. Despite the war, I did not witness people picking through the rubbish. People were in the streets and sitting in cafes – and, with the exception of the occasional sound of a bomb explosion, life continued.
With the exception of the occasional sound of a bomb explosion, life continued.
The war has given the people of Tripoli a new nightlife activity: protests of defiance. Despite the fact that Libyan drivers endured hours of waiting to get a tank of gas, they get together with friends and drive all over, waving flags and chanting slogans of defiance. Nightly, thousands gather at Col. Qaddafi’s Bab Al Aziziya compound to celebrate their freedom and to show their defiance against the rebels, the U.S. and NATO bombers. The people that I saw there were from all sectors of the Libyan society.
What the media does not tell people is that Muammar Qaddafi and the Jamahiriya have struggled harder than any Western leader to champion the rights of the poor and abolish racism against Black people. Our media has failed to show that the rebels have systematically targeted Black Libyans and non-Arab Africans for acts of violence, rape and murder to recreate racial divisions in that society that the Jamahiriya had brought together.
What the media does not tell people is that Muammar Qaddafi and the Jamahiriya have struggled harder than any Western leader to champion the rights of the poor and abolish racism against Black people.
The atrocities committed against the Black Libyans and guest workers remain an under-reported phenomenon of the “humanitarian intervention.” Perhaps the media wants to make sure that few Americans know that Libya has a considerable Black population. And it does not help the warmongers to justify the war if people are to know that the Jamahiriya has lifted Libya from one of the poorest nations in the world to one with the highest standards of living in the world.
The poorest of Black Libyans have everything to lose if the opposition takes power. This writer believes that the war on Libya would be far less popular in the U.S. if the African American population knew how much many of the Libyans resembled them.
The war on Libya would be far less popular in the U.S. if the African American population knew how much many of the Libyans resembled them.
If any of the anti-Vietnam War sentiment, expressed by Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight other people of color in the 1960s, exists among African Americans today, the favorable public opinion will be that this war is doomed.
From Pharaoh to Obama, the Libyans have an innate desire to be free from outside interference. What we must consider is that the internal affairs of Libya are best left for them to solve themselves. The shock and awe approach to the Libyan people is passé.
Almost a century ago, Libyan freedom fighters were the first people in history to be bombed from the air by the Italian military. The Libyan people want to be at peace and free from political, economic and cultural imperialism and allowed to choose their own heroes and a system of governance that suits them, whether the nations of the West like it or not.
For this precious liberty of self-determination, the Libyans in Tripoli defiantly join the heroic peoples’ struggles, Guernica and Hanoi, that defiantly faced the bombs of fascistic militarists who sought to strip them of their dignity.
Randy Short is an independent researcher who holds a doctorate in African studies from Howard University and a master’s of divinity from Harvard University. He has just returned from Libya, where he was part of the Dignity Delegation headed by Cynthia McKinney. This story first appeared on Black Agenda Report.