Dozens Dead As Libya Cracks Down On Protesters

As in Baharain, the Libyan Government has reacted violently to the populist uprising sweeping the Arab world. The difference is the Libyans are doing it largely without anyone noticing

Largely out of the sight of the world, the Libyan Government has reacted quite violently to the protests that sprung up there in the wake of the revolt in Egypt:

PARIS — At least 24 people have died in protests in Libya against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to Human Rights Watch, and demonstrations were reported to have continued into Friday in what appeared to be the most serious challenge in his 41-year rule.

Troops took to the streets of Benghazi on Friday, Reuters reported, but in Tripoli, the capital, Colonel Qaddafi himself made a brief appearance at the central Green Square, surrounded by supporters. He did not, however, address them.

Green is the color Colonel Qaddafi has adopted for what he calls his revolution, initiating a system under which he is ostensibly an ordinary citizen but in reality wields absolute power, buttressed by a powerful personality cult, tight controls on the media and a pervasive security apparatus.

Exiled opponents of the Libyan leader said on Thursday that protests mirroring the turmoil in the Arab world had broken out in several parts of the country on a so-called Day of Rage.

But the ferocity of the government’s response emerged only on Friday when the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said security forces “killed at least 24 protesters and wounded many others in a crackdown on peaceful demonstrations across the country.”

Although they don’t seem to have the same coverage on the ground that they did in Egypt, al-Jazeera is running a live-blog of the news out of one of the Arab worlds most closed regimes:

3:41 pm There is a fierce battle over the eastern Libyan city of Bayda, the Reuters news agency reports. Two Libyan exile opposition groups earlier claimed that that the city had been taken over by anti-government protesters who were joined by local police forces, but now it appears that government “militias” have been reinforced and are clashing with residents, who are fighting back “with any weapons they could find.”

2:06 pm Deadly attacks on peaceful protests – that is what eyewitnesses are reporting from all over Libya. The country’s “day of rage” has left at least 24 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch. Despite media restrictions in Libya – reports of protests and violence have emerged on the internet. Many amateur videos have also been uploaded, which cannot be independently verified.

There’s also this YouTube compilation of protesters across Libya:

As extraordinary as the protests of the past month have been, this is perhaps the most extraordinary of all.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. anjin-san says:

    Where is the far right freedom brigade? Guess Muslims dying in the street fighting for their freedom does not fit into what Rush and Beck have been spoon feeding them…