So okay – Gadaffi / Kadafi / Khadaffi / Qaddafi / Kadhafi* is dead. Libya’s President (referred to as “Our Dear Friend” by Hargreaves Magama, Chairperson of South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, at yesterday’s Institute for Security Studies debate) is no more.
It is understandable that Libyans celebrate the recent events. These people have been oppressed for decades, robbed from their human rights, dignity, and various other freedoms we tend to take for granted on a daily basis. So yeah, I think it is pretty normal the Libyan population, as a first response, is celebrating his death.
But should the rest of the world sing and dance with them, and rejoice over Gadaffi’s end? Really? In what society do we live where it is okay to celebrate someone’s death? Shouldn’t we rather celebrate the prospect of freedom in Libya (then again, let’s see about that. Libya is not out of the woods just yet. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said: It is only the end of the beginning)?
Besides, I do not see the point of us, the outside world, celebrating the fact that a character like Gadaffi is escaping the justice he so much deserves. Now that he is pushing daisies, Libya’s former President will never physically and consciously pay for the wrongs he has done.
“Yes, but he is dead. There is no harsher sentence than death”, you would say. I do not agree. Death in Gadaffi’s case is a very easy way out. Besides, now there is always a chance for him to become a martyr among some groups – which could be rather dangerous. I hear a time bomb ticking somewhere.
Last but not least – what is there really to celebrate at this point? Gadaffi’s death came at a huge cost. Over the past months, the International Community has managed to bomb the country back to the Stone Ages, and thousands and thousands of people were killed / maimed and traumatized in the process. Of course they did not initiate this war. It was a response to Gadaffi & his cronies. Regardless of who did what: the price of the war – to be paid by ordinary people – was huge. An overview:
- There are no exact figures with regards to civil casualties (are there ever?) but it is estimated at least 30,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 wounded during the first six months of war initiated by NATO.
- 26,000 air missions were conducted, of which 10,000 involved missile strikes. It should give you an idea of the damage to infrastructure, homes, buildings, schools and hospitals.
- UNICEF reported in March this year how 1 million children in western Libya “were in serious danger due to clamp down on protesters and vie for control of key towns and cities. As many as 700,000 children in that month were believed to be trapped in Tripoli”
- Over 1 million refugees have fled Libya since March.
- According to the Institute For Security Studies it is the most armed country in the world.
So yes, Gadaffi is dead and again: I fully understand why Libyans are celebrating this event. It is an initial reaction to the hardship they were subjected to. But to the US, Europe and anyone else involved: Back off! We all know that one of your objectives to start a war was to be able to eventually dunk a big fat finger in Libya’s oil pie. If you are so anti-Tyrant, why are you not involved in Syria? Or Bahrain? Or closer to (my) home: why not trying to kick Robert Mugabe’s ass? Should be fairly easy. Ah – unfortunately there is nothing up for grabs in Zimbabwe.
But that is my humble opinion – which you do not have to share of course.
* There are actually 112 ways to spell his name. And I thought my name – Miriam, Mirjam, Miryam, Meriam, Mirriam, Manak, mannack, Manack, Munnak – was a tough nut to crack!