The Libyan conflict
The address given to the African writers
By Ahmed Ibrhaim el-Fagih
From the 2nd to the 4th of May 2011 convened in Addis Ababa the conference of African writers which has invited the Libyan writer Dr Ahmed Fagih to enlighten the members of the conference on the existing situation in libya , and that’s the speech he delivered to them on the second day of the conference , and he gave briefing of it to the president of Ethiopia when he received the members of the conference in the presidential palace.
My dear friends the writers and thinkers of Africa
Allow me to start my talk by passing my heart-felt thanks to the union of African writers and the association of Ethiopian writers for inviting me to this conference to address you on the existing situation in Libya
Ladies and gentlemen
Libya has been recently in the news over the conflict between the existing Libyan leader colonel Muammar Gaddafi`s regime and the rebellious people who wanted to put an end to this regime .
Let us not engage at this stage with listing the negative and positive aspects of Colonel Gaddafi`s rule , as this might be controversial to decide what is good and bad , for example their would be people who would view favourably the role played by Gaddafi and his regime in the affairs of this continent Africa , others , would see it in a very negative light , taking into consideration the wars and conflicts he was keen to be part of , so I will leave for a while examining Gaddafi`s record , instead I will be concerned with stating some historical and political facts.
1- Starting with a point in history and that is the first of September 1969 , marking the end of the royal regime led by King Idris ,the head of a religious Sufi order called Sunossya that was part of the Libyan resistance against the Italian occupation of Libyan, establishing a republic headed of colonel Gaddafi, who was in power since that day up to this day maintaining his very tight grip on power , which makes him one of the longest running rulers in the universe.
2- He took power through a military coup staged by what were called the free unionist officers , who met no resistance from the military and security institutions of the old regime , although this conspiring officers were in the minority and they remained till now the real power behind Gaddafi in spite of some popular facet that serve only as a décor.
3- Colonel Gaddafi went on record as saying that he started plotting against the royal regime and forming the first cells of his underground movement since his school days in 1959,
The question that might arise from this that how could those ideas or ideals that motivated his action to take over power in Libya, that are dated back to the fifties of last century be valid fifty or sixty years on . Of course new ideas are pound to advance and take over from old moulds of thought but with a regime like this, resistance is apparent to any thing new, and perhaps that is why Libya was the last country to allow internet, and the last country to allow seeing satellite channels, and libya maintains a very strict pan on visitors to the country bringing books or printed material , and can hardly be any foreign press distributed in the country. Not to mention censorship on the media and the press and the denial of any freedom of speech or thought as part of a very closely controlled society
4- During his forty two years rule , colonel Gaddafi , never thought of going back to the people of Libya to consult them on his position as the utmost and supreme ruler , be it in a form of an election , or a referendum or any kind of voting ,
Justifying his existence in this position by what he called revolutionary legitimacy , which means a legitimacy of his own creation , maintaining it by military might alone , because there is no such a legitimacy that carries a ruler more than four decades , and if it was allowed for a couple of months in times of power vacuum or times of crisis , it can not be under any circumstance be extended beyond a very short period of time.
5- Colonel Gaddafi invented his own personal brand of revolutionary socialism , producing a little booklet he called the green book , outlining a system of a governing in the three parts of this booklet, calling the first part the final solution of the problem of democracy , and the second the final solution of the problem of economy, and the third the final solution of the social problem. So the colonel by these conditions to which everyone in Libya should conform
has set for the country the famous procrustean bed in the Greek mythology forcing it to fit in it even if the cost was chopping off an arm or a leg or a foot or both legs and both feet.
5- I am not here to praise Colonel Gaddafi , nor to bury him, but one might argue that his personal brand of revolutionary socialism could be considered as a form of community politics that can be applied to local government , that is the best can be said about it, but in no way it can replace , the necessary institutions of modern state legislative and executive and legal , which should exist along each other without being mixed in a way that will prevent them from functioning in the proper constitutional way that govern the modern democratic state , his brand of socialist system can be only conducive to a tyrannical rule , a one man show kind of governance .
6 – Colonel Gaddafi consolidated his tyranny and despotism by cruel and brutal rule of terror, since the end of the Libyan resistance against the Italian occupation , almost four decades before the arrival of Gaddafi on the scene there was hardly any case of a capital punishment was passed for a political stand, as for the four decades of Colonel Gaddafi`s rule there could hardly be a year passed without the hanging of scores of political opponents , some of them taking place in university campus.
7- Amnesty international and other international human rights bodies would list many occasions where mass murders took place in Libya under the rule of our brother leader , like the infamous Abu sleem prison when 1250 prisoners were rounded up in the prison yard by the presidential guards and gunned down within an hour or two. That happened in 1996 and the news of this massacre were suppressed, only on the recent two or three years the government under pressure of human rights bodies, confessed to the massacre taking place. Similar massacres inside the country and much publicized terrorist activities outside it , like the Lockerbie tragedy were committed by this brutal regime , apart from a host of stupid wars the regime inflicted on his people and others like the ones with neighbouring Chad , and Egypt and the third in Uganda in defence of Edi Amen Dada.
8- The stifling atmosphere in the country and complete lack of freedom of expression can hardly help creating a prosperous literary and artistic movement , but it can surely enhance the spirit of challenge and determination in the hearts of writers and artists forcing them to find ways and means to display their talents and create outlets for the products of their literary and artistic faculties. Within this context I will only mention a few facts to highlight the situation : there is a slogan that is prevailing in the country stating an official policy , the slogan says “ No stardom in the state of the masses” which means fame is denied in any form , in any field be it arts , literature , sport , science, politics . The regime in Libya can really pride himself on producing rare and unimaginable scenes, for the mass media to display , like the scene when the yelling crowds , celebrating the burning of musical instruments like pianos ,Guitars, Chellos , and as they were made of highest quality wood like mahogany , the fire was producing colours like a festival of rainbows, and was not at all like the fires produced by the books written by infidel writers .
9- Needless to say that the regime of Gaddafi , never allows any form of protest or marches or demos , only if they were in favour of its policy , or in condemnation of its enemies , even if it was limited to non-political issues , like wage-increasing demands .
These are only some examples of the way Libya was run by the brutal regime that was finally has to face his judgement
day, and the unexpected rising of that body that was tied up to the bed of procrustes asking to regain its missing limbs.
I will end up calling for your support in three points
First , the leaders of the African union were unfortunately taking stand unfavourable of the Libyan people siding unjustly with ruler slaughtering them in the past and now , so an effort is needed from our writers community to call upon them to modify their stand.
Second, some of our colleagues are detained by the forces of the state they are the writer and editor in chief of the literary magazine Arajeen Mr Idris Mismari
The poet Rabeea Shareer who was shown in the government television being tortured and interrogated calling him names.
A lady writer and journalist Salma Shaab who is the general secretary of Tripoli press syndicate
Professor Abdul Rahman Sowihly and his two sons
Who were taken from their house in Tripoli and remained since the beginning of the conflict in the government custody. Asking you to join me in demanding their immediate release.
Third, joining me on the call to Colonel Gaddafi to end the blood bath by leaving office after he ruled for forty two years, and leave the people of the country to decide over their destiny.