By now you’ve probably heard of the most recent tragedy to hit Benghazi. A protest against a militia base became fatal after close to 30 people were killed, with dozens more wounded. You can get more details here.
What the news agencies won’t tell you is that the militia in question, ‘Der’e Libya’ (Arm of Libya) has a notorious reputation and questionable leadership. One of their bases is stationed near our house, and their behaviour is suspicious, to say the least. Stinking of homemade alcohol and harassing passersby, these louts can hardly be considered suitable protection. The fact that they’ve been unable to make any serious changes in security speaks for itself.
Another thing the media doesn’t know is that the area of the incident, Kuwayfia, is a quiet suburb of Benghazi. The people living there are amiable and keep to themselves – until provoked. And Der’e Libya has done more than their fair share of provoking. When the residents crowded outside the base, demanding the militia disband or join the National Army, they were fired upon.
That’s when the protesters went to their houses and got their own guns.
A Libyan does not cower and retreat in the face of attack, especially if his family and community are under threat.
The Special Forces came on the scene (the same guys who were deployed here a few weeks ago after the hospital bombing) to try and stop what turned into an all-out battle. But even they weren’t spared from the militia’s attack.
All in all, the body count included protesters, militia members and soldiers of the special forces. It was a day of grief for everyone in the country.
I’m not going to analyze, or tell you which side I think is to blame (although I’m sure you must have surmised it); I’m writing to say what needs to be said every time something like this happens;
Benghazi is not a violent city.
The people are not used to guns and weapons out in the open; we’ve never witnessed a bombing prior to the revolution; there has never been a mass killing between citizens that resulted in the death of dozens. This is all new to us and we reject it.
We will not play host to armed militias and sundry other gangs. We will not wait for the government to help us repair, develop and revive the city.
I say this not as a lone blogger, an isolated person in the country, I am echoing the sentiments of the people. A good friend recently quoted Jon Donne to me, “No man is an island…”, and Benghazi certainly is not separate from the Libyan mainland. These incidents bring us closer and make us more determined in our resolve.
I realize that I am beginning to repeat myself, and you’re probably wondering if I’m going to make a sentimental, bleeding hearts post every time a catastrophe happens in my country. As long as the media airs news stories that talk about the tragedies, I will write a post countering the misconceptions.
And I say tragedies, because this one is not going to be the last. If we want a decent country, we will have to struggle for it.
As a final note, I just want to make mention of Syria, who started their revolution shortly after ours but who still are not free. New developments include the now openly-admitted involvement of the criminal Hezbollah. This group, who we once cheered on for standing up to israel, have declared their undying support for Bashar the human genocide machine. The people are now stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the situation is looking increasingly grim by the day. The least we can do is keep them in our thoughts and prayers.