Who could have forgotten the images that emerged from Libya exactly one year ago? Gadhafi, bloody and disheveled, surrounded by a brigade of freedom fighters (or ‘rebels’, as the rest of the world knows them as). Gadhafi, dazed and barely able to stand, hardly taking in his surroundings. The dictator who once claimed to be the King of Kings of Africa, reduced to nothing but an old man in tattered clothing and a bruised ego.
This day, last year, began as any other, with updates from our fighters on the front lines of Sirte, the last Gadhafi stronghold. Rumors of Gahdafi’s whereabouts have been widespread, placing him in Bani Walid, Algeria, even Venezuela. No one could have expected that in a few hours he would be found in a hole near Sirte, his hometown.
Confirmation of his capture was swift. Pictures and videos emerged, one by one Libyan NTC officials and members of the military began issuing official statements. No one grew tired of hearing it being repeated over and over again. With each announcement jubilation increased, the news the country had desperately been waiting for for months finally arriving. If Gadhafi wasn’t stopped, his troops would continue to murder. Soon after, reports of his death appeared. They were treated with no less joy.
But this joy felt in Libya wasn’t echoed by the rest of the world. Libyans were accused of being barbaric, cruel, inhumane. It was as though no one knew of the mounting death toll that had started during the revolution, of the innocent people kidnapped, tortured, raped and then murdered, thrown in a mass grave that Libyans to this day are still discovering. They only heard about Gadhafi’s death and were appalled. They didn’t see, or couldn’t understand, that a nation had been freed.
Humanity is reserved for humans. Muammer Gadhafi was no such thing. He was a plague, an entity composed entirely of greed, corruption and evil. He sold his soul for oil wealth and, more importantly, power. Not only did he oppress the Libyan people, he actively worked for their deterioration and demise.
Debates about whether or not he deserved to be killed are redundant, because this was his inevitable end. He was given chance after chance to surrender, to stop butchering his own people, was handed countless escape plans. He refused them all in favour of a deluded belief that he was fighting a noble cause. Many stories from within his inner circle ascertain that, in his final days, he truly had lost his mind.
The pain and suffering caused by this man over the past 42 years of his reign cannot be quantified. Countless deaths, countless rapes and tortures, countless broken hearts by mothers who lost one, two or three sons to the tyrant. An entire nation was oppressed and broken, and it will take a long time for the wounds to heal, for the damage to be undone.
Today, Libya is strangely quiet about this one year anniversary. A day not to celebrate, but to reflect on the horrors that one man could inflict. Reports of the capture of Gadhafi’s son have now pushed the event to the back of their minds. As one man in Tripoli’s Martyrs Square said tonight, “We don’t want to celebrate [his death], he was a dog and he died.”
What have we achieved since last year? Local and national elections that were successful in every way, the formation of a congress, the restoration of some semblance of balance. Many things are standing in the way of a stable Libya, but the citizens are not done revolting just yet. If we survived under Gadhafi, we can survive anything.