NEWS > EVERYONE ELSE > LIBYA BREAKING UP STREET PARTIES WITH LIVE ROUNDS
LIBYA BREAKING UP STREET PARTIES WITH LIVE ROUNDS
February 20 2011
Tripoli, Libya – There was a thought, perhaps a hope, that the protests in Tunisia that upended the country and the rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali would be an isolated thing, an anomaly in an unsettled nation. After the rapid decline of the Presidency of
Hosni Mubarak it quickly became clear that despite the best hopes of the leaders of many nations, including western countries not likely to be directly faced with such events, that what began in that tiny nation on the northern coast of Africa was not going to end anytime soon.
Now with similar protests spreading across Northern Africa, the Middle East, and even into Iran and Persia, the Jasmine Revolution which started in that poor and largely insignificant has started to spread across the world, threatening to unsettle and even potentially unseat the governments of upwards of a dozen nations. While there is certainly something compelling to the notion of people taking back their countries, a principle on which many nations have been built in the past, the instability throughout the region has brought concerns that radical elements may take power and cause serious problems for the rest of the world. That concern is why many countries are starting to take hard stands with protestors, including efforts in Libya and Bahrain to diffuse the situation by firing live rounds into crowds, a long standing tradition signalling the end of the party.
“We understand the concerns of the people in the streets and we are listening to
them, they are being heard, but we cannot allow people to spend this much time in the streets and disrupt the operations of the nation. This has been a wonderful gathering and a wonderful show of the passion of the Libyan people but eventually the party must end,” said a spokesperson for the Libyan government. “In the long standing tradition of the best of Libyan culture we have begun live fire into the crowds. This is a traditional symbol that that the party is coming to end, much like last call in western establishments. Unfortunately not everyone is going home and should that continue, we may have to take harsh steps to end these gatherings.”
Estimates put the number of dead at about 200 in the last six days, a relatively low number considering the size of the gatherings and normal death rates at Libyan parties.
“To outsiders things like this may seem totally foreign, but the world does not work in the same way as it does in the west. That is very much the ugly American attitude which pervades all nations to some degree, this idea that all people share essentially the same traditions,” said Scrape TV African analyst Claude Contee. “This events in Africa are showing the world that it is not all the same, that things taken for granted in one nation are not necessarily the same in another. These shootings in Libya and to a lesser degree in Bahrain are evidence of that.”
Dozens have also been shot dead in Bahrain, an unusually high number for that country where live fire sessions tend to be practiced by minority groups.
“There is little doubt that these gatherings are going to bring about some kind of change to these countries and that is what the leadership is concerned about. They are afraid that these gatherings will grow and cascade and so it makes sense to try and break them up via these traditional methods,” continued Contee. “However people don’t appear to be fooled by the gunfire, they appear to be staying in the streets and that is going to cause some tension, particularly if the leadership starts to get sick of cleaning up the litter and brains that have been spilled all over the streets. I fear that they could start employing more extreme methods very soon.”
Gunfire has also been reported in the Iranian protests despite such traditions not common in that country.
Emil Uliya, International Correspondent