February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night

It is a real genocide whether it is in the eastern cities of Libya or whether what is going now in Tripoli. The information that we are receiving from the people in Tripoli is the regime is killing whoever goes out to the streets… He has his mercenaries everywhere in the streets and whenever any demonstrator appears they just kill them. At least they shoot them, whether they kill them or not, but they are shooting them.

Ibrahim Omar Al Dabashi, Libyan Deputy Ambassador to the UN 21:47 Feb 21, 2011

As the rebellion in Libya enters it's sixth month and the UN/NATO intervention enters it's fifth month it would be good to recollect some of the key events that got us here. This narrative is especially important for those that don't know this history and want to understand what is going on with Libya now.

The Libyan youth movement had called for a "Day of Rage" against the Qaddafi regime on February 17th. The people were more than ready to throw off 41 years of Qaddafi rule and the response was amazing. Protests were already breaking out all over Libya as early as Feb. 14-15.

Things can move extremely fast in a revolutionary period and now they moved with blinding speed. From the very beginning Qaddafi met peaceful protests with live fire, and as protesters fought back, he upped the level of violence dramatically. Still by the evening of Sunday, February 20th, it was being reported that Benghazi had fallen to the rebellion.

The next day, Monday, February 21th was a very long day in Tripoli. Qaddafi was absolutely brutal. He fought back hard with cold steel and fire. And nowhere less than Tripoli. It now appears that something like 700 people were brutally murdered by Qaddafi in Tripoli that day.

In this diary I have recounted in minute-by-minute detail some of the key events surrounding that day. To do this I have relied heavy on the AJE live blog, the WST Libya blog, Twitter, and other sources. Of special interest is some of the eyewitness reporters about these event that are starting to make their way to safety and speak out like this Tripoli mortuary eyewitness or this Libyan from Tripoli that spoke to AJE in Misrata.

Collection of footage from that day, some of it extremely graphic.

Tripoli mortuary eyewitness as reported by BBC June 16, 2011:

Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.

Between 600 and 700 people were killed. I know this because I carried the bodies into my hospital.

Each ambulance brought three or four dead people. And the ambulances just kept coming and going, like delivery vans dropping off goods.

Every one of Tripoli’s ambulances – and we have a lot of them – was out on the roads, carrying dead bodies.

They pulled off the patients’ oxygen masks, yanked off the wires connected to their monitors, pulled out the drips and tubes, and took them away”

When the mortuary’s refrigerators were full, we placed the bodies on tables and stretchers, or left them on the floor. It was the same at the other hospitals.

Col Gaddafi killed people who were demonstrating peacefully.

I know this because I saw it myself. I saw men in military uniform in pick-ups, their faces covered, shooting at people. It was like a scene from a horror film.

‘Down with Gaddafi’

I think Col Gaddafi’s forces were using anti-aircraft guns on people.

The people had gunshot wounds to their heads or chests. The bullets had exploded and some of the people had their heads blown open. I tried to pick up the pieces.

It was very confused at the hospital. We did not count the number of dead or register them. We just dropped the dead bodies and sent the wounded into surgery. No-one was taking down names or counting.

Reuters reported on February 21st:

Residents reported gunfire in parts of Tripoli and one political activist said warplanes had bombed the city. But state TV showed government supporters rallying and Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said warplanes had hit only ammunition dumps.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi had killed dozens of people across the country, human rights groups and witnesses said, prompting widespread condemnation from world leaders.

No independent verification of the reports was available and communications with Libya from outside were difficult.

"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead," Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast on al Jazeera television. "Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you."

Libyan man shares proof of violence in Tripoli. Ali, who has returned to his hometown of Misurata, narrates a video about the horrors that he faced in Libyan capital. He took it on Feb 20, When people in Tripoli went to Green Sq to demonstrate after hearing that Qaddafi had fled to Venezuela.


Sunday, February 20 [Tripoli time]

21:52 Opposition groups were twitting about the "capture of Benghazi." Other tweets indicate that Benghazi's al-Birka barracks had been breached with a TNT charge. A part of the army in Benghazi has come over to the rebels. Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that at least 10,000 protesters had been in the streets of Benghazi earlier that day after the funerals of the 84 protesters shot dead the day before.

22:38 Al Jazeera reports that Libya’s Arab League envoy Abdel Moneim al-Honi quits saying “I have submitted my resignation in protest against the acts of repression and violence against demonstrators [in Libya] and I am joining the ranks of the revolution.” Judges are also protesting in Tripoli. Qaddafi's regime appears to be falling down around his ears. Minutes later it is being reported that Minister of Public Security, Lieutenant Abdel Fatah Younis El Obeidi, has joined opposition. It is also being reported that the “Warfala tribe is beginning to rise, they are a big tribe covering east and west”

23:21 BBC reporting “at least four separate” protests in Tripoli, citing witnesses. Security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas. Gunfire in Tripoli is reportedly extremely heavy. The anti-Qaddafi forces are reported to be making a "valiant" effort in Tripoli as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the world’s “foremost Sunni Muslim scholar,” is urging all of Libya to take to the streets.

Monday, February 21

00:14 Libyan State TV says Saif Qaddai to address the nation "shortly." Twitter is all ablaze with rumors of Qaddafi leaving. Example: "Reason #12 For Gaddafi’s son to take so long: Daddy’s tent still being folded!"

00:33 AJE says reports suggest the 500,000-strong Tuareg tribe in south Libya has heeded the call from the million-strong Warfala tribe to join the uprising. Protesters in Ghat and Ubary, home to Libyan Tuareg clans are reportedly attacking government buildings and police stations. As minutes pass waiting Qaddafi's son to speak, so many are sure of his imminent departure that Tripoli has already begun to celebrate.

01:00 Saif Qaddafi is on TV. It is a rambling unprepared speech. "Citizens tried to attack the army and they were in a situation that was difficult. The army was not used to dealing with riots," he says. "Libyan citizens died and this was a tragedy."

01:51 Al Arabiya is reporting that “the Egyptian news service MENA is reporting” Muammar al-Qaddafi has left Libya and is on his way to Venezuela amidst fresh reports of gunfire in Tripoli. Shortly after Saif Qaddafi's speech the rebels were tweeting that the Werfalla tribe, the largest in Libya according to some, was siding with Qaddafi and that "Tripoli is under siege." Then the tweets started saying they had reversed themselves and joined the rebellion. The situation is very fluid.

002:31 Full text of Gaddafi’s “address to the nation,” via BBC Monitoring: “I am satisfied, because I was speaking in front of the youth in the Green Square tonight, but the rain came praise to God it bears well. I want to clarify for them that I am in Tripoli not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels they are dogs. Goodbye.”

06:49 A Libyan American spoke with his brother in Tripoli, who described - over the sound of heavy gunfire - the intense combat that has broken out in the capital, where anti-government protesters were attacked after taking the main square. A caller from Libya describes the forces that have shot at protesters in Tripoli's Green Square as "the special militia that is guarding Qaddafi".

12:07 Reports from news agencies, Twitter - and witnesses speaking directly to Al Jazeera - are painting a picture of semi-chaos overnight in Tripoli. It appears that some protesters from nearby towns converged on the city, and thousands from the capital itself turned out as well. They were allowed to march to the central Green or Martyrs' Square, which they occupied briefly before being confronted by security forces and pro-Qaddafi protesters, who came out in force after a late-night speech by Saif al-Qaddafi. This video includes footage of the burning of a police station Souq Al Jummah, Tripoli. Sporadic gunshots – possibly sniper fire – can be heard during the pre-dawn hours in Tripoli.

16:17 Reuters reports the Libyan justice minister has resigned in support of the protests.

16:40 Four helicopters reported to be circling Green Square, where protesters have gathered in central Tripoli.

16:51 Qaddafi's security forces reportedly surround the home of Jumaa Al Ousta - general secretary of Libya's trade and industry chamber. They are threatening to burn it down, after he was critical of Qaddafi in an interview with Al Jazeera.

16:58 A Libyan consul secretary, a translator and a receptionist have quit their jobs at the embassy in Stockholm. In a letter, they write:

We condemn the genocide of civilians taking place in Libya following their legitimate demands of life in dignity and without the despot Gadaffi's continued mismanagement and corruption.

We find the situation unbearable: we don't want to be passive when we see that people rise up against the tyrant despite the obvious risk that their blood is spilled. Therefore we resign in protest and urge others to make their voices heard.

17:40 Two civilian helicopters, followed by two Libyan fighter jets, have landed in Malta. Only one of at least seven passengers are reported to be carrying passports. Karl Stagno-Novarra, AJ's correspondent in Malta, reports the pilots of the jet fighters that landed there are "senior colonels", who were ordered to bomb protesters. The defected pilots reportedly tell Maltese officials they were based in Tripoli and ordered to attack protesters on the ground in Benghazi. After seeing their fellow pilots begin the airstrikes, they diverted course toward Malta.

18:30 Planes of the Libyan Air Force reportedly opening fire on protesters in central Tripoli. Further reports of live ammunition being used on protesters in Tripoli, with lots of tweets saying security forces are again driving cars around the city, shooting at everyone and everything.

18:38 Venezuelan officials deny Gaddafi is on his way there.

18:46 Al Jazeera signal inside Libya is being blocked. Blockage is traced to Libyan intelligence building, south of Tripoli. The networks website is also being blocked.

19:09 All land-based and wireless communications are reported cut in Libya Within the hour Dutch ISP provider XS4ALL has set up an Internet dial-up service for Libya and login credentials are being circulated by the resistance. The Libyan ambassador to Indonesia has also resigned.

19:55 According to Al Jazeera a large march in Tripoli in the afternoon was attacked by military aircraft and security forces using live ammunition. A political activist reports

"There is death, fear - and women are crying everywhere. The strikes are concentrated against areas that sent large number of protesters to the streets and there are cars full of foreign fighters firing on people." He says at least 250 people were killed in the past 24 hours alone and is calling for international help. He tells us Tripoli is "under siege by foreign fighters" - that water and electricity have been cut and there is a shortage of food and medical supplies. "It is a genocide," he says.

20:16 Libyan ambassador to Bangladesh confirms his resignation to AJA.

20:30 Al Jazeera obtains this recording of a phone call from a woman in Tripoli.

20:53 AJA reports Libyan ambassador to the EU resigns

21:09 AJE reports “Ibrahim Dabbashim Libya’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, tells Al Jazeera if Gaddafi does not get out, ‘the people will kick him out.’”

21:19 Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, contacts Amr Moussa, Arab League secretary-general, and calls for an extraordinary meeting of the league.

21:47 BBC: Libya’s diplomats at the United Nations for international intervention to end the crisis. The deputy ambassador, Ibrahim Omar Al Dabashi, told BBC World that Col Gaddafi’s government was carrying out a genocide. [AJE YouTube video] Ali al-Essawi, ambassador to India, has resigned. He has accused the government of deploying foreign mercenaries against Libyan citizens.

21:49 AFP: Eyewitnesses are reporting a “massacre” in the Fashloum and Tajoura districts of Tripoli. AJA: New airstrikes have hit Al Joumhouria [The republic] Street in Tripoli.

22:13 Arabiya TV: Libyan military source confirms orders were issued for the aerial bombardment of Benghazi within the past 2 1/2 hours.

22:54 Reported AJA update on the air strikes: Air strikes happening in Zawiya currently; Two fighter jets land in Benghazi after their pilots refuse

23:00 Libyan state TV says "security forces have begun an extensive operation against dens of vandals".

23:02 Anti-Gaddafi forces, via Twitter: “now we have Tripoli Misrata Zawia all currently being bombed” [Extremely Graphic pictures]

Tuesday, February 22

00:33 Saif Gaddafi, also known among the opposition as Muammar’s “mini-me”, also comes on State TV and denies warplanes bombed populated areas in Tripoli and Benghazi, says targets were ammunition depots in remote areas. There are also reports that Libyan border guards have abandoned the eastern border with Egypt although not on State TV. Reuters reports that the Egyptian army's Facebook page says the Egypt-Libya border is now open.

00:34 Al Jazeera writes on their blog "Images of bodies gutted in the attacks are too harrowing to be shown. Our colleagues on the TV side of the newsroom have had to pixellate the bloodied bodies, where limbs have been hacked off and torsos maimed."

00:41 Libyan State TV is airing "confessions" by Tunisians in Libya saying they were behind the uprising.

01:10 Financial Times: Oil companies to pull personnel, shut down operations.

01:17 Latest New York Times:

The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as security forces and militiamen backed by helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.

By Monday night, witnesses said, the streets of the capital, Tripoli, were thick with special forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi as well as mercenaries. They shot freely as planes dropped what witnesses described as “small bombs” and helicopters fired on protesters, making further demonstrations against the government impossible for the moment.

01:40 Libya's deputy ambassador Dabbashi tells UN "No fly zone should be called over Libya"

03:07 The hacker group Anonymous issues statement in solidarity with Libya protesters.


Here are the links to my articles at WL Central:
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
2011-03-11 Who's running Egypt?
Libyans are spilling their blood for us all!
2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi
2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre
2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change
The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant
2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down!
2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria
2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues
2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency
2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow
2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-28 Mubarak Refuses to Step Down!
2011-01-28 Egypt is on Fire!
2011-01-27 Libya is in Revolt as Gaddafi Worries
2011-01-27 Algerians Plan Big Protest Rally for February 9th
2011-01-27 Tunisia Protests Continues as a Warrant is Issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-27 Tens of Thousands Rally in Yemen, Demand Change
2011-01-27 Mubarak Blinks as Egyptian Protests Continue for 3rd Day

North African Hacker Humor

Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on the Internet, North Africa and Anonymous:
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Who's running Egypt?
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Californians Support North African Revolts
Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too!
Secret U.S. Intelligence Source on Middle East Revealed !
Arming Gaddfi
Are "mutinous officers" are being executed in Egypt now?
Algeria's 19 year long State of Emergency to end soon, President says
Senior Egyptian Army Officers Ordered Massacre!
Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
BREAKING: Mubarak is Defiant
The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
Tunisia's Revolution Continues
Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest
Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor
Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux
No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
Egypt is on Fire!
North African Revolution Continues
Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back
BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today
Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution
Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire!
Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia
Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!