[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
The other day I posted on reports that Gaddafi forces were murdering wounded protesters while they waited in the hospital. A few were very reasonably skeptical about that as frankly I was, too. Well, courtesy of the New York Times, we get a ton of accounts that line up with what was described in that report only this time we get something we didn’t have last time: a reason why they would go after them.
After all, it was quite reasonable to wonder last time why Gaddafi would bother. But the Times report provides that explanation. You see Gaddafi was getting ready to let the press do an official tour. And he wanted all signs of strife removed:
A bold effort by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to prove that he was firmly in control of Libya appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.
Witnesses described snipers and antiaircraft guns firing at unarmed civilians, and security forces were removing the dead and wounded from streets and hospitals, apparently in an effort to hide the mounting toll.
When government-picked drivers escorted journalists on tours of the city on Saturday morning, the evidence of the extent of the unrest was unmistakable. Workers were still hastily painting over graffiti calling Colonel Qaddafi a “bloodsucker” or demanding his ouster. Just off the tour route were long bread lines where residents said they were afraid to be seen talking to journalists.
The whole thing is definitely worth reading, but here’s a few more highlights:
“I have seen more than 68 people killed,” said a doctor who gave his name only as Hussein. “But the people who have died, they don’t leave them in the same place. We have seen them taking them in the Qaddafi cars, and nobody knows who there are taking the people who have died.” He added, “Even the ones with just a broken hand or something they are taking away.”…
Then the reporter starts to get the official tour…
The next morning, a driver took a group of foreign journalists to an area known as the Friday market, which appeared to have been the site of a riot the night before. The streets were strewn with debris, and piles of shattered glass had been collected in cardboard boxes.
A young man approached the journalists to deliver a passionate plea for unity and accolades to Colonel Qaddafi, then left in a white van full of police officers. Two small boys approached surreptitiously with bullet casings they presented as evidence of force used on protesters the night before….
A middle-age business owner, who identified himself only as Turkey, … and several other residents said that over the past week neighbors had been besieged by pickup trucks full of armed men shooting randomly at the crowds, sometimes wounding people who were sitting peacefully in their homes or cars. At other times, several said, the security forces had employed rooftop snipers, antiaircraft guns mounted on trucks and buckshot, and they produced shells and casings that appeared to confirm their reports. Mr. Turkey said that on one day he had seen about 50 to 60 heavily armed men who appeared to be mercenaries from nearby African countries.
The residents also said that they had seen security forces scooping up dead and wounded protesters and removing them from the streets, apparently to hide evidence of the violence. Because they believe security forces are also removing casualties from hospitals, they said, they have tried to hide their friends within the hospital and remove them after initial treatment.
There’s much more in the article, but I think it is reasonable to believe that Gaddafi was truly murdering wounded protesters and removing their bodies, for the purpose of hiding the bloodshed.
I suspect at some point we will learn of a mass grave of those who died opposing this dictator.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]