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The Crimes Against Libyans Are Paramount

It is infuriating enough when the Western media ignore the value of Libyan lives. However, when fellow Libyans intentionally or inadvertently trivialize the atrocities committed against their own people, that is an issue that cries out for redress. This is the flaw in the distributed flyer calling for an anti-Qaddafi demonstration in Washington, D.C., on March 16, 2001.

This flyer mentions Qaddafi's atrocities against the United States, Britain, and France, but Qaddafi's most heinous acts against humanity--i.e., those against Libyans--are listed elsewhere. To learn about those crimes, people must go to "". This order of importance is skewed and more than a mere oversight; it is the tragic result of brainwashing by the Western media regarding which atrocities matter most to the world. Surely, the atrocities that matter the most to Libyans are the ones committed against Libyans themselves.

Of course, I am against all acts of terrorism wherever they may occur. Nevertheless, it seems to me that in any enumeration of Qaddafi's atrocities, Libyans would list those against their own people first, especially since those atrocities have been the most inhumane of all, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The West is well aware of Qaddafi's masterminding of Pan Am Flight 103, UTA Flight 772, and the bombing of a Berlin night club. But the West is totally ignorant regarding Qaddafi's destruction of Libyan Flight 1103, killing 143 Libyans over Tripoli Airport. The West knows little or nothing about the crimes committed against Libyans as human beings, the oppression and reduction of human beings to animals, the decimation of Libya's culture and historic heritage, and the bleeding of Libyan wealth and resources.

We, as Libyans, must respect ourselves if we are to gain respect from the world. If we don't speak loud and clear about the tragedy that Qaddafi is causing to us, who will speak for us? We must provide vivid details about the crimes Qaddafi has committed against us and our nation. If we don't speak for ourselves, we cannot expect others to speak on our behalf.

It is not only important that we expose Qaddafi and tell the world what has happened, but we also must do so in a way that is most advantageous to the Libyan people. In the past, the West and our Mediterranean neighbors have supported Qaddafi in one way or another. If our protests are too timid, the United States could feasibly strike a deal with Qaddafi. We all know that principle is not what motivates the West; rather, their motivation is tied to strategic and economic interests. Qaddafi is begging for a deal with the West as a means of staying in power. He is like a frightened mouse. He will do whatever it takes to satisfy the West, as long he is allowed to stay in power. If the price is Libyan sovereignty, he doesn't care. If the price is Libyan resources, it doesn't matter to Qaddafi.

The interests of the Libyan people are different than those of the West. Maybe those countries that supported Qaddafi in the past want to get rid of him now, but we are certain that their motives for doing so are merely their own and have nothing to do with the best interests of the Libyan people. We all oppose Qaddafi now. We wish to see the democratization of Libya, but many other countries want to protect their selfish interests, and this means continued support of a regime antithetical to the needs of the Libyan people.

The Qaddafi regime is in crisis. It is desperately seeking a way to save itself from imminent overthrow. Libyan resistance is increasing every day. The Libyan people are determined to overthrow the tyrant and his henchmen who have committed crimes and spread corruption for more than three decades.

We should depend on our own abilities as much as possible, but at the same time, we should take advantage of the surrounding international circumstances and utilize them to the best interests of the Libyan people.

I wish success for all of us in our common struggle.

Shaib El'ain

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