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Libya: Protests Begin in Benghazi Ahead of February 17 Day of Wrath

This post is part of Global Voices special coverage on Libya Uprising 2011.

Libya's revolution date is pencilled in for February 17 – but it seems that the Libyans are too eager to voice their rage and anger at Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled their country for almost 40 years.

Reports on Twitter and videos uploaded on YouTube speak of protests in Benghazi, where around 200 relatives of political prisoners killed in the Abu Slim Prison massacre of June 1996 have gathered after the spokesman on behalf of the families was arrested.

Libyan citizens take to the streets in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Still from video by Youtube user enoughgaddafi.

Libyan citizens take to the streets in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Still from video by Youtube user enoughgaddafi.

As with Egypt, which ousted Hosni Mubarak after 30 years of corruption, the February 17 date was originally spread through social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree provides (Ar) some context to why the protests started tonight:

يتظاهر فى مدينة بنغازى الليبية من يوم امس الثلاثاء 15 فبراير 2011 حتى هذة اللحظة المئات من اهالى شهداء مجزرة سجن ابوسليم هناك وانضم اليها العشرات من الليبيين احتجاجا على اعتقال اجهزة الامن الليبية للمتحدث الرسمى باسم عائلات الشهداء دون ابداء اى اسباب , كانت مجزرة سجن ابوسليم قد وقعت فى 29 يونيو 1996 حيث قامت مجموعة امنية قريبة من نظام الديكتاتور الليبى معمر القذافى باقتحام السجن بالاسلحة الالية وقتل ما لا يقل كما ذكر عن 1200 معتقل سياسى وسجين رأى الذين اعترضوا انذاك على سوء ظروفهم الصحية والمعيشية داخل السجن , وقد استغرقت هذة العملية الدموية 3 ساعات ليدفنوا بعدها فى فناء السجن وفى مقابر جماعية فى مدينة طرابلس , ولم يتم الكشف عن هذة الجريمة البشعة الا فى 2008 حينما تسربت معلومات بتفاصيلها كاملة الى اهالى الشهداء والمدافعين عن حقوق الانسان سواء داخل ليبيا او خارجها , ويصر اهالى الشهداء على معاقبة الجناة الحقيقيين المسئولين عن هذة المذبحة وتقديمهم الى العدالة ولكن للاسف يبدو ان نظام معمر القذافى الديكتاتورى لا ينصت لمثل هذة الاستغاثات ويصر على معاملة الشعب الليبى بالحديد والنار , لذا فنعلن تضامنا مع الشعب الليبى ومع اسر الشهداء حتى يتم تقديم المجرمين للعدالة واولهم معمر واسرتة
Until this moment, hundreds of people are protesting in Benghazi. They are the relatives of the martyrs slain in the Abu Slim prison massacre, who were joined by scores of other supporters. They are demonstrating against the arrest of the official spokesman on behalf of the families, who was arrested by the Libyan security forces, for no reason.
The Abu Slim prison massacre happened on June 29, 1996, when a security group close to the Libyan dictator's regime broke into the prison, and mawed down not less than 1,200 political prisoner, who had objected then to their inhumane conditions inside the prison. This bloody operation continued for three hours, and the victims were then buried in the prison's courtyard and in mass graves in Tripoli. This horrendeous crime was only revealed in 2008, when information was leaked to the families of the martyrs, and human rights defenders inside and outside Libya. The families insist on punishing the real culprits for this massacre, and seeing justice met. Sadly, Gaddafi's dictatorial regime does not listen to such pleas and continues to treat the Libyan people with lead and fire. This is why we announce our solidarity with the Libyan people and the families of the martyrs until the criminals are punished, starting with Muammer and his family.

Here are some of the reactions from Twitter, where tweeps are raising the alarm on the unfolding situation in Libya and urging the international community and the Press to pay attention to their cause:

@Naddah: Gaddafi warns against use of Facebook, activists arrested http://bit.ly/eEv4ds #Libya #Feb17

@Tripolitanian: Opposition in #Libya demanding Gaddafi resignation, 2 days ahead of planned #Feb17 http://bit.ly/ftZcfN

@libyan4life: Some reports of movement in Tripoli #Libya, not confirmed. Ahead of #Feb17, Libyans using element of surprise on #Gaddafi!

@Cyrenaican: Protests still going on, at shari3 houari in #benghazi #libya ppl arriving every minute, antiregime, antiGaddafi chants being made

@Ayonadre: Eyewitnesses: protests in Asaha AlKhadra, #Tripoli and more in #Benghazi. The revolt in Libya has begun, can't wait until #Feb17

@fineaccess: In #Benghazi #Libya, using boiling water on protestors in addition to usual bombs.. etc … this is new… rabena yostor

@amtfoto: Libyan protestors in #Benghazi attacked by high pressured hot water #Libya #feb17

@EnoughGaddafi: @dima_khatib @monaeltahawy families of Victims of AbuSalim prison massacre started to demand release of activists, more joined #Feb17 #Libya

@thanku4theanger: #feb17#Libya Benghazi Protests on Aljazeera now. Libyan Protesters attacked with tear gas and batons. Freedom is on its way! #Jan25#egypt

@Dima_Khatib: Police is reported to be already using gas near demo in Benghazi, #Libya. Al jazeera quoted sources on the ground #feb17

@JohnTMorgan: Protesters in Benghazi, Libya have burned down the govt security building heading for city center @monaeltahawy @bencnn @NickKristof #Feb17

@db_s_turbosnail: now protesters moving to the city center #Feb17 #Libya

@Sityaan: Its finally happening people, in #Libya . Even before #feb17. Sparks fly on the streets of benghazi…..http://bit.ly/h2Xn11

@libyan4life: Sources in #Libya say anything related to #Feb17 is blocked. Fears that #Gaddafi will soon cut internet totally.

@EnoughGaddafi: @EnoughGaddafi now numbers at 200 or so estimated in front of security headquarters in Benghazi protesting #Feb17 #Libya

@AhmadALGamaty: Benghazi revolution now it's true #Libya #feb17 #Egypt

@Abukersh: @Leak_Spinner http://j.mp/epEetx BREAKING NEWS !! First videos of Benghazi protests #Libya #Feb17 @enoughgaddafi

@Cyrenaican: Video of protests in #Benghazi #Libya up http://tiny.cc/7fruw #Feb17 read comments for more info

@Cyrenaican: Second video of protests in #Benghazi tonight http://tiny.cc/8f2c6 #Libya #Feb17

@Cyrenaican: Please mirror videos in case they get taken down! #Libya #Feb17

@ChangeInLibya: for libyans on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/17022011libya follow information and spread it even if u dnt want 2 like page #libya #feb17

@Tripolitanian: Gaddafi will murder protesters in #Libya #Feb17 in the absence of your media coverage @AJEnglish @cnnbrk @BBCBreaking @WSJ

@ChangeInLibya: To all followers: I'm sorry for retweet spam but I'm trying to make sure #libya is not ignored. It's the least I can do for my cntry. #feb17

@FreeLibyaa: people who are taking pictures, calling libya etc be very careful! #libya #feb17

@KCdalis: @AJELive #Libya uprising starts #Feb17. This could be the next BIGGEST revolution in history. Don't miss it. Media coverage urgent..

@KCdalis: @Tripolitanian Protests planned in London outside Libyan Embassy and White House USA..should attract Western Media attention. #Feb17 #Libya

@Pulitzercenter: Libya's “Day of Rage” approaches. Who will you be following for updates? We're creating a list. #Libya #Feb17

@FreeLibyaa: can't get through to my cousins… #libya #feb17

@ToneyBrooks: It appears revolution in #Libya has begun in earnest in #Benghazi and #Tripoli. Paid thugs out in full force. God's speed to all! #Feb17

@mnabd: BENGHAZI: Vive la revolucion!!! #libya #feb17

@BareeqBarqawi: Cannot wait till #feb17 for #Libya revolution – #Gaddafi is going DOWN.

@NohaZayed: Is Libya really happening? #feb17 #libya

@ChangeInLibya: lots of gaddafi thugs on twitter trying to spread misinformation, block them: http://bit.ly/enOGaO & send me names if u hv #libya #feb17

@ChangeInLibya: ALL LIBYANS: THE TWITTER TAGS FOR THIS REV ARE #gaddaficrimes #libya and #feb17 – mind the spelling! let's get our story out to the world.

@ChangeInLibya: #libya EVERYONE WITH A VIDEO, upload to http://sharek.aljazeera.net/ as well as FB/youtube! #feb17 don't rely on one medium/website!

This post is part of Global Voices special coverage on Libya Uprising 2011.

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  • kent

    I pray the people have the courage and stamina to see it through. I fear it will be harder won than Egypt’s.

  • http://selfsip.org Kitty Antonik Wakfer

    Peaceful street protests are OK but not enough, and ones starting violence simply feed any ruler’s claim that “order” is necessary.

    It is government enforcers – civilian and military – that make the rulers’ commands more than simple words. Without enforcers – those willing to initiate physical harm on others, no elected (“legally or not) or appointed or inherited government could stay in power or even get there in the first place.

    No matter the location, all of these government enforcers are people, NOT robots!.

    Photo their faces and publish them; supply names when you can and urge others to provide the names when they are strangers. Let fellow countrymen know who these enforcers are so that they can shun them – have NO business or social dealings with them if they will not be persuaded with words to cease initiating physical harm.

    Enforcers are the key to all governments! Without them all regulations/decrees/laws/edicts/etc of all Kings/Presidents/ministers/senators/judges/etc are merely words. Shunning is a potentially very powerful non-violent tool for societal change, used down through the ages. It is included in Gene Sharp’s 2nd volume (of 3), “The Politics of Nonviolent Action”, Chapter 4, “The Methods of Social Noncooperation”, a “bible” for non-violent change.

    Street protests are not enough, as I wrote in general intended for use in North America in “Tax/Regulation Protests are Not Enough: Relationship of Self-Responsibility and Social Order” – http://selfsip.org/focus/protestsnotenough.html – but which is applicable in the general principles anywhere.

  • http://rubiconman.blogspot.com Ixak
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