As fighting continues in Tripoli, Qaddafi once again took to the airwaves to appeal to his followers to “purify” the capital of “rats, crusaders and unbelievers”—indicating that at least some of the city’s TV transmitters remain in his hands. In what accounts called an “audio broadcast on loyalist satellite TV channels,” Qaddafi sounded as defiant—and delusional—as ever:
Libya is for the Libyan people and not for the agents, not for imperialism, not for France, not for Sarkozy, not for Italy. Tripoli is for you, not for those who rely on NATO… The enemy is delusional [sic!!!], NATO is retreating. It cannot go on forever in the air. NATO be damned… We will defeat them with determination, through will, commitment to freedom, sovereignty, dignity and glory. Never be afraid of them, only fear God, you are closer to God than they… Do not leave Tripoli for the rats, do not leave them. Fight them, destroy them. You are the overwhelming majority, you have marched in millions [before]. March with the same millions but fight this time. Fill the streets and the field… Do not be afraid of bombing, you will not be hit. Do not be afraid at all. They are just stun grenades to scare you. Do not be afraid at all, do not surrender Tripoli. [CNN, LAT, Reuters, Aug. 25]
AlJazeera meanwhile reports evidence of a “possible mass execution of political activists” by Qaddafi forces. Visiting a hospital in Tripoli, Al Jazeera’s James Bays said he saw the bodies of 15 men suspected of having been killed a few days earlier as the rebels closed in on the Libyan capital. “The smell here is overpowering,” Bays said from the hospital where a number of bodies lay. “I have counted the bodies of 15 men, we were told there were 17 here. Two bodies were taken away by relatives for burial. We are told these men were political activists who have been arrested over the last few days and weeks and being held near the Gaddafi compound. When the opposition fighters started to enter the compound we are told they were killed. Everyone I have spoken to who has looked at these injuries, all the medical staff, they say they believe that the injuries they see on the bodies of these men have the hallmark of a mass execution.”
Bays said there were no forensic specialists at the hospital, but doctors there have taken photos of the exit and entry wounds, with the intention of providing evidence for investigators. (AlJazeera, Aug. 25)
And AP reports evidence of a “mass killings of noncombatants, detainees and the wounded” by the rebels. Reporters saw some two dozen bodies, some with their wrists tied, scattered around the remains of Qaddafi’s compound, the Bab al-Aziziya. They are thought to be activists from the nearby Qaddafi-stronghold neighborhood of Abu Salim who had set up a tent city outside the compound to protect it from the rebels. (AP, Aug. 25)
In South Africa, the government of President Jacob Zuma called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a probe of NATO’s actions in Libya. Said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe: “We note they [NATO] are attempting to create the impression that the rebels are acting on their own in their attacks in Tripoli but there are clear links and co-ordination at that level, UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which was aimed at protecting civilians, initially from bombings by the government of Moammar Qaddafi, was in a sense overstretched by the NATO forces.” He asked whether the ICC “will have the wherewithal to unearth that information and bring those who are responsible to book, including the NATO commanders on the ground.”
South Africa, currently a member of the UN Security Council, voted in favor of Resolution 1973. However President Zuma has since protested that NATO has used the resolution to pursue it own interests, going beyond protecting civilians. Zuma earlier this week said the NATO-led use of force had undercut Africa’s peace efforts. “I think that the point we have been making is that those who have a lot of capacity, even the capacity to bombard the countries, really undermined the AU’s initiatives and effort to deal with the matter in Libya,” he told reporters. (Middle East Online, Aug. 25)
There have also been calls for an ICC probe of NATO over civilian casualties in Libya.
See our last post on Libya.