Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chris Hondros: Libya

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Lybian Revolution 2011 Summary

The revolution started on February and was influenced by Tunisia and Egypt.  The news agencies are now calling the Libyan revolution, the Libyan Civil War.  I imagine it is because of the amount of reported causalities for both the demonstrators and armed forces.

As of early May 2011, the reports vary from 2,000 to 10,000 deaths.  The true amount of deaths is hard to ascertain, under the circumstances.  Some of the killings are under investigation by the International Criminal Court because of the said crimes against humanity.  The largest amount of deaths occurred in the battles of Misrata with estimates of demonstrators at 551 – 1,000 and government at 100-352 (as of late March).

Not only are there killings in the revolution, but disappearances of journalists and photographers.  Gaddafi, has banned international journalists from covering the conflict, however, some reporters are able to “imbed” with the collation fighters (France, Britain, and the US) to cover some of the news, from their point of reference.

The conflict is occurring throughout Libya in most of the towns and is ongoing starting with small numbers to thousands.  On February 15, the protestors started by peacefully marching down the street in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi after the arrest of the Human Rights lawyer, Fathi Terbil that was disrupted by police ending with 38 injuries.

Much of the Libya’s income comes from the production of oil with revenues up to 58%. (Wikepidia) and as a result the wealth has spread in the country and their standard of living is better than the surrounding countries.  Because of the higher living standards, the population is well educated thus the citizens are able to understand corruption, political systems and levels of democracy.

However, Libya has an unemployment rate of 21%, but hires migrants workers totaling to around one million.

Libya, is known for domestic surveillance committees, informants that keep track of those who are against the government.  It is illegal to found a political party, and those who attempt, are executed.  Libya, is also highly censored in Media, and allowed internet sites.  Their call is for freedom, democracy, to oust Gaddafi, and to spread the oil wealth to more of the population, and to rid of the migrant workers.

Gaddafi, is not responding to their demands except through arrests and violence.  The government has used, live ammunition, snipers, helicopters, water cannons, smoke bombs, arrests, reported beatings and broadcasts executions.  There have been reports of rape of women by the government forces, entering homes in the night to arrests protesters and many disappearances.

It is also said by a doctor, that young children were targeted.  Amnesty International said that writers and intellectuals disappeared during the beginning of the conflict and subjected to torture or execution.  Many were denied access to hospitals and providing blood transfusions.  In one instance, the military entered into a hospital and killed the injured protestors then removed their bodies.  The soldiers, who refuse to fire on the protesters, are executed.  At one point, they executed 130 soldiers at one time.

Gaddafi has also responded by shutting down all internet communications, arrested Libyans who had given phone interviews, kicked out all foreign journalists, shut down phone services in some areas, closed the town of Misrata and has imposed curfews.

It is also reported that he has been hiring mercenaries from surrounding countries to use force against the demonstrators, when many of the military units refused to shoot on the protestors.  Men from Mali, Ghana, Niger, Chadian have been said to see advertisements, and pay$ 1,000 to $2,500 per day, with upfront payments of $10,000. (Winkipedia)
It is also reported that he hires children fighters, after the arrest of a 16 year old in Al-Bayda.  Reuters reported that Gaddafi sent soldiers into refugee camps to bribe and intimidate them into fighting.

This conflict is complicated, and on this site, I attempted to gather local videos from the ground in order to get an idea of what is going on inside.  Below is a link to an interactive map, that you can click on and follow the updates and another walking map from Google.

Libya and Syria censorship

Libya and Syria are censored from foreign journalists most of the reports are coming from the locals who are capturing the moments with small video cameras.  Syria is totally closed, but many journalists are embedding with the collation forces to report news in Libya.  However, embeded journalists are to stay with the troops and thus we only get one point of view.  The videos on this site reflect both mainstream media news and local reporting in order to gather a clear picture of what is going on in the Middle East.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Syria: Revolution 2011

The demonstrations started on the 26th of January and are ongoing.  The protesters demands are against inflation, unemployment, government corruption, the 48 year emergency law.  They ask for more freedoms and the release of all political prisoners and trials for those who shot and killed the protestors.  Some have been asking for the resignation of Assad.

The demonstrator’s tactics are in the forms of demonstrations, self-immolations, civil resistance and hunger strikes.  The demonstrations have been escalating from a few hundred that started in Daraa to thousands in different cities throughout Syria.  By March 15th they had organized simultaneous demonstrations across Syria and on March 25th it is reported that 100,000 protestors demonstrated in Daraa.

As in other Middle East revolutions, the youth used Facebook  , YouTube and Twitter as a means to organize the demonstrations.  It has been since the 1st of January the Syrian government permitted citizens to sign up for high speed internet, and after that the use of Facebook, YouTube and Amazon were available to the citizens.  Only 26 days after the permission to use the social networks, the revolutions began.

The government resistance to the revolution has been the most violent so far, in the Middle East where as May 8th, 183 to 708 protesters and 111 plus security forces killed, hundreds of injuries and as many as 8,000 protesters have been arrested.

The Syrian army has placed a siege on Baniyas, built checkpoints into Daraa, confiscated flour and food, patrolling the streets with tanks and have used snipers to shoot at any person walking in the streets.  They have also shut of the electricity and water in Daraa.

The organizers of the Revolution say that they will not stop until they see a change, have more freedom, and the Al-assad family is oust. 

Human Rights Watch has stated that Syria has one of the worst human rights situations in the world.  The emergency rule gives security forces powers of arrest and detention as they please.  They have imprisoned human rights activists, suppressed the rights of expression, and assembly are strictly controlled.  Women and ethnic minorities face discrimination and the situation has not improved since al-Assad has come into power 10 years ago.  The Shabbiha are 3,000 paid members of the Alassad family who have the authority to do anything towards the people protesting against the government.  They have been accused for breaking human rights from the viewing of videos on Facebook and YouTube.

The demonstrators have seen a few results from their efforts: 19th of April, the government approved lifting the country’s emergency laws, however the date has not been set.  On 20th March, the government said that it would release 15 children who had been arrested for writing pro-democracy graffiti.

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