by Rick Moran
I'd like to say that the Whole World is Watching as Libyan's Gaddafi uses tanks, artillery, and even anti-aircraft rounds to try and crush the protests that are only growing in Benghazi. But the fact is, Gaddafi has cut off internet and international phone lines in an attempt to keep his barbarity from the rest of the world.
This report from the Telegraph says that at least 140 have been massacred and that "tens of thousands" are in the streets:
Libyan special forces launched a dawn attack on Saturday against hundreds of protesters, including lawyers and judges, camped in front of the courthouse in Benghazi. "They fired tear gas on protesters in tents and cleared the areas after many fled carrying the dead and the injured," one protester said by phone from the city.
Video clips on the internet showed jubilant crowds at the start of the protest smashing down concrete statues of their ruler's Little Green Book, containing his sayings, and fighting running street battles with security forces. There were smaller protests in Tripoli, a stronghold of the Gaddafi family whose population received a much better share of Libya's oil wealth.[...]
Reports from Benghazi gave a very different picture of the crisis, describing how the city's residents battled brutal security forces sent from the capital. One man, who gave his name only as Mohammed, told the BBC: "The army are joining the people, the people are going out of their homes and fighting street by street and they are winning."
Pro-government thugs, armed with hammers and swords, are reported to have broken into the houses of protestors and murdered entire families. Armed mercenaries from Chad have been unleashed with video to prove it. There are also reports that Muslim clerics in Libya have pleaded with the army not to shoot protestors.
Other reports say that there have been scattered incidents of the army switching sides:
"They don't have any weapons so it is difficult for the people in Benghazi to defend themselves," he said. "But the army were so horrified when these mercenaries started attacking protesters that they have joined the people to defend them. It is chaotic in the hospitals. Medical supplies and everything else has been blocked and they are making appeals in the streets for people to come forward and give blood."
A Libyan journalist said of the African mercenaries: "The soldiers are vicious killers. People are so terrified of them that they've been doing everything possible to get away.
"Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned."
It is impossible to verify most of this. My guess is that the truth is even worse. As long as Gaddafi believes his barbarous crack down is hidden from the world, he will continue to order the army to shoot first and ask questions later.
What makes this uprising so remarkable is that when similar tactics of the state were tried in Burma, China, and a few other nations, the protests were quickly squelched. Unarmed people facing live, indiscriminate fire tend to make the choice to live and fight another day.
But the protests in Libya are growing. Perhaps there is a collective feeling that "This is our moment" and the protestors are going all in for revolution. If the army switches sides in any significant number, civil war might break out in which case all bets are off on Gaddafi's staying power.
For the moment though, he is firmly in control - as long as the military keeps pulling the trigger in his name.
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