Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now."

Today, Robin Yassin-Kassab, author of The Road from Damascus, reports this call from a friend in the besieged Libyan city of Benghazi: "We are hungry, no food supplies for us; people are dying more and more everyday, women and children are amongst the dead in the horrific Benghazi massacre, we are isolated from the media coverage."

Robin's friend further reports that yesterday three tanks were abandoned by their crews and "citizens burned them." Last night the hospitals announced 40 dead, including a 13-year-old child, and this morning another 15 martyrs. "The hospitals are running out of medical supplies & are calling for urgent need of medical aid; gun shots barely stop, and helicopters are firing and throwing bombs on protestors."

The news media has been completely shut out of Libya. Al-Jazeera has been jammed. One of the last reliable reports before the shortcircuiting was that the house of Mohamed Zuwae, general secretary of the ruling People’s Congress, was set ablaze in Tripoli. Libyans are afraid to post anything on Facebook, even to click 'like' on postings for fear of being arrested by the Libyan intelligence bureau.

Still, word is getting out. Robin reports heavy gunfire in the Fashloom district of Tripoli, where citizens are fighting with security forces, and dying. Libyan exiles report that the death toll has reached 120 in Benghazi alone. Residents of Zawiya City have come out in demonstrations of solidarity with Benghazi and are burning posters of dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

The Egyptian blogger Zeinobia reports that the Libyan rebels are arming themselves (she's posted a convincing video on her website) and that sections of the Libyan military are in mutiny. "Qaddafi will be killed," she writes, "mark my words, he will be killed, he will not leave Libya alive after what he has done."

In one heartening development, the repression has prompted roughly 50 Libyan religious leaders, intellectuals and tribal leaders to issue this appeal through the Reuters news agency: "This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars (faqihs and Sufi sheikhs), intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area. We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him). . . Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!"

The Independent on Sunday: "Dozens were killed. We are in the midst of a massacre here," one eyewitness in Benghazi reported. Clashes were also reported in the town of al-Bayda - dozens of civilians are said to have been killed there, and police stations in the town came under attack. In all, the death toll was reported to have reached 120. Doctors from Aj Jala hospital in Benghazi alone confirmed 1,000 people had been injured.

In Iran, on the eve of country-wide demonstrations planned for tomorrow, security forces have begun sealing the entrance of the home of opposition leaders Mir Hosein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard with an iron gate. The opposition leadership has been cut off from outside contact for three days and under "house arrest." While the Khomeinist cliques that control Iran are arguing with one another about whether to subject the opposition to show trials or just execute their leaders outright, the Mousavi-Rahnavard daughters say they don't even know of their parents are even in their home anymore. Iranians in the diaspora are planning solidarity demonstrations tomorrow in cities all over the world.

The most encouraging news today: A 15,000-strong anti-Islamist protest in Tunis. Tunisia’s 2,000-year-old Jewish community has been given a terrible scare from antisemitic "protests" and violence in the chaos following the collapse of the Zine El Abidine's government. One sign carried by the anti-Islamist protesters: Musulmans, Chretiens, Juifs: Nous sommes tous Tunisiens. Related: Israel's former head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, says that Israelis need to relax a bit about events in Egypt. The Khomeinist despotism in Iran is far and away the greater threat to Israeli security [and to its own citizens], Yadlin points out.

Stay strong, comrades of the Maghreb, the Levant, and Persia. Tiocfaidh do lá.


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