Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Politics, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You know I used to be a very good writer, I still am, I’m just saying I used to be too. So I’m sitting here, lying on my bed (The word ‘lying’ here is a deliberate pun) and experiencing a classic case of writer’s block plus its three AM in the morning and the mosquitoes in my room are doing a very good job at keeping me company to pull through my insomnia. I am however, *in Kanu’s voice* determined to scribble whatever thoughts and opinions form in my head as regards the U.S. (er…that would be the one in America) and the obliteration of its enemies. *Swats mosquito into bloody smear* (Why is that always so satisfying?) Yes! You’re right! The sudden need to talk about global politics is not borne out of my will to share from my versed knowledge on the subject, No! rather from the way my brothers and sisters here have taken up the issue of Muammar Gaddafi’s death and how the variety of asinine opinions I’ve heard have intrigued me the more to say the least.
As I always say, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people”. In other words, never let down your guard. Stupid people have a way of springing up surprises on you (especially the creative ones) even when you expect it. Better yet, as Albert Einstein put it “There are two things in the universe that are infinite. The universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the universe”. But I am of course not here to talk about stupid people nor wonder what God will do with them on Judgement day. That, my friends, is a subject for another time. I want to however, “objectively” analyze the Gaddafi case here and now. Now for those of you who don’t already know, Muammar Muhamad Abu Minyar Al-Gaddafi was born on 7th June 1942 in Sirte (Former) Italian Libya. Col Gaddafi was the Autocratic ruler of Libya from 1969, when he seized power in a bloodless coup, until 2011 when his government was overthrown in a civil war which consisted of a popular uprising aided by foreign intervention. His 42 year rule prior to the uprising made him the fourth longest ruling non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest ruling Arab leader. Libya enjoys large natural resources, which Gaddafi utilized to help develop the country. Under Gaddafi’s direct democracy system, the country’s literacy rate rose from 10% to 90%, life expectancy rose from 57 to 77 years, equal rights were established for women and black people, employment opportunities were established for migrant workers, and welfare systems were introduced that allowed access to free education, free healthcare, and financial assistance for housing. The Great Manmade River was also built to allow free access to fresh water across large parts of the country. In addition, financial support was provided for university scholarships and employment programs. The country was developed without taking any foreign loans. As a result, Libya was debt-free under Gaddafi’s regime.
Despite his role in developing the country, critics have accused Gaddafi of concentrating a large part of the country’s high gross domestic product on his family and his elites, who allegedly amassed vast fortunes. Many of the business enterprises were allegedly controlled by Gaddafi and his family. Despite the regime providing financial assistance for housing, segments of the population continued to live in poverty, particularly in the eastern parts of the country.
When the rising international oil prices began to raise Gaddafi’s revenues in the 1970s, Gaddafi spent much of the revenues on arms purchases and on sponsoring his political projects abroad. Gaddafi’s relatives adopted lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars.
The Economy of Libya was centrally planned and followed Gaddafi’s socialist ideals. It benefited greatly from revenues from the petroleum sector, which contributed most export earnings and 30% of its GDP. These oil revenues, combined with a small population and by far Africa’s highest Education Index gave Libya the highest nominal GDP per capita in Africa. Between 2000 and 2011, Libya recorded favourable growth rates with an estimated 10.6 percent growth of GDP in 2010, the highest of any state in Africa. Gaddafi had promised “a home for all Libyans” and during his rule, new residential areas rose in empty Saharan regions. Entire populations living in mud-brick caravan towns were moved into modern homes with running water, electricity, and satellite TV.
At the time Gaddafi died, some of the worst economic conditions were in the eastern parts of the state. The sewage facilities in Banghazi were over 40 years old, and untreated sewage flowed into ground and coast. 97% of urban dwellers have access to “improved sanitation facilities” in Libya, this was 2% points lower than the OECD average, or 21% points above the world average. In the first 15 years of Gaddafi rule, the number of doctors per 1000/citizens increased by seven times, with the number of hospital beds increasing by three times. During Gaddafi’s rule, infant mortality rates went from 125 per 1000 live births, about average for Africa at the time, to 15 per 1000, the best rate in Africa. Libyans who could afford it often had to seek medical care in neighboring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt because of lack of decent medical care in Libya.
Libyans have described the Great Manmade River, built under Gaddafi’s regime, as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Gaddafi also initiated the Libyan National Telescope Project, costing about 10 million euros.

Phew! With all these, I’m sure you might wanna ask “What the Fuck is the problem with Libyans??” (Excuse my French). Well here’s the rest of the truth: on September 1 1969, a small group of junior military officers led by Gaddafi staged a bloodless coup d’etat against king Idris of Libya while the king was in Turkey for medical treatment. Idris’s nephew the crown prince Sayyid Hassan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, was formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and placed under house arrest; they abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic.
On gaining power he immediately ordered the shut down of British and American military bases. He told western officials that he would expel their companies from Libya’s oil fields unless they shared more revenue. The oil companies complied with the demand, increasing Libya’s share from 50 to 79 percent. In December 1969, Egyptian intelligence thwarted a planned coup against Gaddafi from high-ranking members of his leadership. Many of the dissenters had grown uneasy with his growing relationship to Egypt. In response to the failed coup, Gaddafi criminalized all political dissent and shared power only with his family and closest associates.
In 1969, Gaddafi created Revolutionary committees to keep tight control over internal dissent. Ten to twenty percent of Libyans worked as informants for these committees. Surveillance took place in the government, in factories, and in the education sector. People who formed a political party were executed, and talking about politics with foreigners was punishable by up to 3 years in jail. Arbitrary arrests were common and Libyans were hesitant to speak with foreigners. The government conducted executions and mutilations of political opponents in public and broadcast recordings of the proceedings on state television. Dissent was illegal under Law 75 of 1973, which denied freedom of expression. In 2010, Libya’s press was rated as 160th out of 178 nations in the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.
During the 1970s, Libya executed members of the Islamist fundamentalist Hizb-ut Tahrir faction, and Gaddafi often personally presided over the executions. Libya faced internal opposition during the 1980s because of the highly unpopular war with Chad. Numerous young men cut off a fingertip to avoid conscription at the time. A mutiny by the Libyan Army in Tobruk was violently suppressed in August 1980.
From time to time Gaddafi responded to external opposition with violence. Between 1980 and 1987, Gaddafi employed his network of diplomats and recruits to assassinate at least 25 critics living abroad. His revolutionary committees called for the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad in April 1980, sending Libyan hit squads abroad to murder them. On 26 April 1980 Gaddafi set a deadline of 11 June 1980 for dissidents to return home or be “in the hands of the revolutionary committees”. Gaddafi stated explicitly in 1982 that “It is the Libyan people’s responsibility to liquidate such scums who are distorting Libya’s image abroad.” Libyan agents have assassinated dissidents in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. As of 2004 Libya still provided bounties on critics, including $1 million for one journalist. There are growing indications that Libya’s Gaddafi-era intelligence service had a cozy relationship with western spy organizations including the CIA, who voluntarily provided information on Libyan dissidents to the regime in exchange for using Libya as a base for extraordinary renditions.
Gaddafi often expressed an overt contempt for the Berbers, a non-Arab people of North Africa, and for their language, maintaining that the very existence of Berbers in North Africa is a myth created by colonialists. He adopted new names for Berber towns, and on official Libyan maps, referred to the Nafusa Mountains as the “Western mountains”. In a 1985 speech, he said of the Berber language, “If your mother transmits you this language, she nourishes you with the milk of the colonialist, she feeds you their poison” (1985). The Berber language was banned from schools and up until 2009, it was illegal for parents to name their children with Berber names. Berbers living in ancient mud-brick caravan towns such as Ghadames were forced out and moved into modern government-constructed apartments in the 1980s. During the 2011 civil war, Berber towns rebelled against Gaddafi’s rule and sought to reaffirm their ancient identity as Berbers. Gaddafi’s government strengthened anti-Berber sentiment among Libyan Arabs, weakening their opposition.
On 4 March 2008 Gaddafi announced his intention to dissolve the country’s existing administrative structure and disburse oil revenue directly to the people. The plan included abolishing all ministries; except those of defence, internal security, and foreign affairs, and departments implementing strategic projects. In 2009, Gaddafi personally told government officials that Libya would soon experience a “new political period” and would have elections for important positions such as minister-level roles and the National Security Advisor position (a Prime Minister equivalent). He also promised to include international monitors to ensure fair elections. His speech was said to have caused quite a stir.
On 17 February 2011, major political protests began in Libya against Gaddafi’s government. During the following weeks, these protests gained significant momentum and size, despite stiff resistance from the Gaddafi government. By late February the country appeared to be rapidly descending into chaos, and the government lost control of most of Eastern Libya. Gaddafi fought back, accusing the rebels of being “drugged” and linked to al-Qaeda. His military forces killed rebelling civilians, and relied heavily on the Khamis Brigade, led by one of his sons Khamis Gaddafi, and on tribal leaders loyal to him. He imported foreign mercenaries to defend his government, reportedly paying Ghanaian mercenaries as much as US$2,500 per day for their services. Reports from Libya also confirmed involvement with Belarus, and the presence of Ukrainian and Serbian mercenaries.
Gaddafi’s violent response to the protesters prompted defections from his government. Gaddafi’s “number two” man, Abdul Fatah Younis, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and several key ambassadors and diplomats resigned from their posts in protest. Other government officials refused to follow orders from Gaddafi, and were jailed for insubordination.
At the beginning of March 2011, Gaddafi returned from a hideout, relying on considerable amounts of Libyan and US cash that had apparently been stored in the capital. Gaddafi’s forces had retaken momentum and were in shooting range of Benghazi by March 2011 when the UN declared a no fly zone to protect the civilian population of Libya. On 30 April the Libyan government claimed that a NATO airstrike killed Gaddafi’s sixth son and three of his grandsons at his son’s home in Tripoli. Government officials said that Muammar Gaddafi and his wife were visiting the home when it was struck, but both were unharmed. Gaddafi’s son’s death came one day after the Libyan leader appeared on state television calling for talks with NATO to end the airstrikes which have been hitting Tripoli and other Gaddafi strongholds since the previous month. Gaddafi suggested there was room for negotiation, but he vowed to stay in Libya. Western officials remained divided over whether Gaddafi was a legitimate military target under the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorized the air campaign. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that NATO was “not targeting Gaddafi specifically” but that his command-and-control facilities were legitimate targets—including a facility inside his sprawling Tripoli compound that was hit with airstrikes 25 April.

Libyan protesters during the uprising

Crimes against humanity arrest warrant
The UN referred the massacres of unarmed civilians to the International Criminal Court. Among the crimes being investigated by the prosecution was whether Gaddafi purchased and authorized the use of Viagra-like drugs among soldiers for the purpose of raping women and instilling fear. His government’s heavy-handed approach to quelling the protests was characterized by the International Federation for Human Rights as a strategy of scorched earth. The acts of “indiscriminate killings of civilians” was charged as crimes against humanity, as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants on 27 June 2011 for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi, head of state security for charges, concerning crimes against humanity.
Libyan officials rejected the ICC’s authority, saying that the ICC has “no legitimacy whatsoever” and that “all of its activities are directed at African leaders”. A Libyan government representative, justice minister Mohammed al-Qamoodi, responded by saying, “The leader of the revolution and his son do not hold any official position in the Libyan government and therefore they have no connection to the claims of the ICC against them …” This makes Gaddafi the second still-serving state-leader to have warrants issued against them, the first being Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.
Loss of international recognition
In connection with the Libyan uprising, Gaddafi’s attempts to influence public opinion in Europe and the United States came under increased scrutiny. Since the beginning of the 2011 conflict a number of countries pushed for the international isolation of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. On 15 July 2011, at a meeting in Istanbul, more than 30 governments recognised the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate government of Libya.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “The United States views the Gaddafi regime as no longer having any legitimate authority in Libya … And so I am announcing today that, until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis.” Gaddafi responded to the announcement with a speech on Libyan national television, in which he said “Trample on those recognitions, trample on them under your feet … They are worthless”.
On 25 August 2011, with most of Tripoli having fallen out of Gaddafi’s control, the Arab League proclaimed the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council to be “the legitimate representative of the Libyan state”, on which basis Libya would resume its membership of the League.
During the Battle of Tripoli, Gaddafi lost effective political and military control of Tripoli after his compound was captured by rebel forces. Rebel forces entered Green Square in the city center, tearing down posters of Gaddafi and flying flags of the rebellion. He continued to give addresses through radio, calling upon his supporters to crush the rebels.
In September, an underground chamber was discovered beneath Tripoli’s Al Fatah University, the largest university in the city, containing (among other things) a bedroom, a Jacuzzi, and a fully equipped gynecological operating chamber. Only Gaddafi and his top associates had been allowed access to it in the past. In the 1980s, several students were allegedly hanged in public on the university campus premises. On at least one of these occasions, young high school students were apparently brought by the bus loads to witness the hanging. The victims were typically accused of pursuing activities against the Al Fatah Revolution and the Libyan People
You see, in the end, it doesn’t really come down to what was fair or what’s right (or maybe it does) in my opinion, Gaddafi did improve the economy and lives of Libyan citizens but at what cost to the Libyans? He basically personalized everything basing policies on personal ideologies and principles rather than common or beneficial interest. So to answer the question “What the fuck is the problem with Libyans??” well nothing except they were oppressed and never free to express dissent even when it meant living in constant fear. Restricted freedom of association, controlled totalitarianism and finally because they were fed up, they had had it. A leaked diplomatic cable describes Libyan economy as “a kleptocracy in which the government – either the al-Gaddafi family itself or its close political allies – has a direct stake in anything worth buying, selling or owning”.

Capture and Death
On 20 September 2011, Gaddafi made a final speech, declaring that “Anyone who says Qaddafi’s government has fallen is nothing but ridiculous and a joke. Qaddafi doesn’t have a government, therefore that government can’t fall. Qaddafi is out of power since 1977 when I have passed the power to the People’s Committees of the Jamahiriya. When 2,000 tribes meet and declare that only the Libyan people represent Libya, doesn’t that say enough? This is the answer to NATO which has said the National Transitional Council from Benghazi represents the Libyan people. The Libyan people are here and they are with me, nobody can represent us. So no legitimacy to anything else or anyone else, the power belongs to the people. All Libyans are members of the People’s Committees. Anything else is false.”
On 20 October 2011, a National Transitional Council (NTC) official told Al Jazeera that Gaddafi had been captured that day by Libyan forces near his hometown of Sirte. He had been in a convoy of vehicles that was targeted by a French air strike on a road about 3 kilometres west of Sirte, killing dozens of loyalist fighters. Gaddafi survived but was wounded and took refuge with several of his bodyguards in a drain underneath the road west of the city. Around noon, NTC fighters found the group and took Gaddafi prisoner. Shortly afterward, he was shot dead. At least four mobile phone videos showed rebels beating Gaddafi and manhandling him on the back of a utility vehicle before his death. In one video, he was seen being rolled around on the ground as rebels pulled off his shirt, though it was unclear if he was already dead. Later pictures of his body showed that he had wounds in the abdomen, chest, and head. A rebel fighter who identified himself as Senad el-Sadik el-Ureybi later claimed to have shot and killed Gaddafi. He claimed to have shot Gaddafi in the head and chest, and that it took half an hour for him to die. Gaddafi’s body was subsequently flown to Misrata and was placed in the freezer of a local market alongside the bodies of Defense Minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr and his son and national security adviser Moatassem Gaddafi. The bodies were put on public display, with Libyans from all over the country coming to view them. Many took pictures on their cell phones.

confirmed dead

Libya’s Prime Minister and several NTC figures confirmed Gaddafi’s death, claiming he died of wounds suffered during his capture. News channels aired a graphic video claiming to be of Gaddafi’s bloodied body after capture.

The lesson here, is no matter how long or how much power you think you have acquired or have over the people, their silence will one day turn to speech and if this is not given a listening ear and followed by effective action, their speech turns to aggression and their aggression into action. As a Nigerian, I have been witness to the recent uprisings and political protests in the Arab world, the ones in Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt and all these have brought about a similar pattern. You can choose to see them as a conscious effort by the West (The West here would refer basically to the U.S and its allies) to obliterate its enemies or just see them for what they are; There is no place for Autocracy and totalitarianism in these times. I dare to predict a few more uprisings in the nearest future as we continue to move into a world that is finally coming to terms with globalization. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. That is why sometimes the intervention of external forces such as NATO, the UN et al is usually needed to quell these ‘injustices’ and ensure we do not inadvertently create the rule of precedence. I’m out!

Muamar Gadafi (7th June 1942 – 20th October 2011)

Authored by ‘Lola
‘Lola is the editor here at La Critique
Follow him on Twitter @Lolaelblack
Follow La Critique on Twitter; @LaCritique_ng and We are on Facebook too

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