Foreign Affairs


Protests met with violence in Libya with over 500 dead.

by New York Times:

Libyan security forces opened fire again Sunday on residents of Benghazi as they attended a funeral procession for the dozens of protesters killed there the day before, and quickly crushed three smaller uprisings in working-class suburbs of the capital, Tripoli.

It was the fifth day of protests and violence in what has become the most serious challenge to four decades of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule.

There were also large protests on Sunday in Yemen, Tunisia and, for the first time, Morocco.

Photo of protesters outside The Court of north Benghazi today 2/18 Al Jazeera reports a estimated 200K.

The escalating violence in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and the center of the protests, appeared to mark a decisive turn in the protests that have shaken Libya, a North African nation rich in oil. (2pm EST confirmed reports of 500 dead in 3 days of protest).

The shooting at the funeral, where the number of casualties could not immediately be confirmed, reinforced what seems to have become a deadly cycle in a city where thousands have gathered in antigovernment demonstrations: security forces fire on funeral marches, killing more protesters, creating more funerals.

The scope of the crackdown was almost impossible to verify in an isolated country that remains largely off limits to foreign journalists and, as part of the government’s efforts to squelch the protests, has been periodically cut off from the Internet. But doctors reached by Al Jazeera, an Arabic satellite channel, said dozens and perhaps hundreds were killed and wounded in the fighting in Benghazi on Saturday, which persisted into the night.

A Benghazi resident who visited the hospital said by e-mail that 200 were dead and nearly 850 wounded; if confirmed, that would substantially raise the death toll by Human Rights Watch, which reported at least 20 people killed Saturday.

Web stats illustrate Libya’s drop in youtube traffic amidst an internet traffic.

With Internet and telephone outages, and reports of security forces visiting the homes of those who spoke with foreign journalists, Libyans scrambled Sunday morning to broadcast news of the clashes taking place. By Sunday, Fathi Terbil, a lawyer and critic of the Qaddafi government whose brief arrest last week helped set off the violence, had set up a live video broadcast. It appeared to emanate from the roof of the courthouse in Benghazi, overlooking the public square that Libyans said they have begun to refer to as their Tahrir Square, after the site in Cairo where Egyptians gathered to challenge their dictator.

The government response in Libya underlined an unintended consequence of the success of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, where protests pouring into the streets day after day forced the departure of long-serving authoritarian leaders. In Libya, Yemen and Algeria, the governments have quickly resorted to violence to crush unrest before it gathers momentum that might threaten their grip on power.

Anti Gaddafi Protesters in Benghazi today (2/19/2011).

In Yemen, violence that flared over the weekend as security forces opened fire at protesters, wounding at least four people, appeared to give way to a standoff on Sunday.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh rallied several thousand supporters in the capital, Sana, pledging to protect the country from “from chaos and from subversives,” to talk with opposition parties, and “to meet their demands if they are legitimate,” according to the official news service.

But protesters seeking Mr. Saleh’s ouster did not back down either. About 1000 students started a sit in outside Sanaa University, joining thousands of others sitting out in Taiz — the center of the protests here — since the revolt in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak from power a little more than one week ago.

The Libyan government, meanwhile, has attempted to impose a near total blackout on the country. Foreign journalists cannot enter. Internet access has been almost totally cut off, with only occasional access, though some protesters appear to be using satellite connections or phoning information to services outside the country.

Over Twitter, Facebook and online social networks, Libyans were calling Sunday for help from across the eastern border in Egypt, pleading for sympathetic Egyptians to bring medical supplies to help with revolt. And Egyptians, with the help of Libyans living abroad, were organizing aid convoys to the border.

New York Times

Salmaniya Hospital After The Killing Of Demonstrators Feb. 18, 2011

Live ammunition is used on protesters in the eastern part of Libya–a city called Albayda. Warning: if you have a weak stomach, avoid watching.

A group called the Libyan Youth Movement has been keeping twitter and Facebook updated with live messages from Libya.

There are confirmed reports that Egyptian protesters have been sneaking into Libya to provide aid to the injured. Ambulances have been blocked by African mercenary security forces. Gaddafi’s newphew has died after a grenade exploded at barracks.

There are also confirmed reports that protests are emerging from Djibou, Morocco, and China. Protesters in Beijing have been chanting, “We want food, we want work, we want fairness.”

Martians take note, eventually oppressed will be heard. And the youth’s will always be the strongest.