Major western lies about Libya revealed
Testimony on Libya by Lizzie Phelan at the Stop the War Coalition, Oxford.
Following is a transcript of the first-hand observations offered to a Stop the War conference in Oxford by Press TV journalist Lizzie Phelan. Her experiences belie much of the "news" the world has received via western media in their efforts to criminalize Muammar Gaddafi and to portray NATO forces as freedom fighters helping to liberate the Libyan people.
Readers can view the video link taken from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPDfJVngAXM
Lizzie Phelan: Thanks to the Stop The War for inviting me. I visited Libya twice over the past six months of the crisis. The first time I was on a peace mission and the second time I was a correspondent for Press TV and I also did some reporting for Russia Today. I left just after the so-called fall of Tripoli and I was there during that horrendous week of the fighting in Tripoli.
Dan [Glazebrook - independent analyst] has really well-contextualized how the war on Libya is a war on Africa. But I'd just like to add something - Dan mentioned how NATO had been targeting over 100,000 soldiers in Libya, but there were also thousands of ordinary men and women - there were a lot of women who volunteered since the beginning of the crisis to defend their country and they were armed by the government. And during that week in Tripoli when the fighting began I witnessed how ordinary men and women took up the weapons that they had been trained to use during that six months to defend their country.
I'm going to, as a journalist, talk a little bit about the role of the media and this has been an incredible media war. Dan alluded strongly to the criminalization of the Libyan government and Gaddafi.
The media said that thousands of people were about to be killed in Benghazi, but they never showed us any evidence. They said that six thousand people had been killed by the government. Human rights organizations have confirmed that approximately 250 had died from both sides.
They said that the Libyan government was attacking its own people from the air. Russian intelligence satellites have since shown us that this was impossible.
They said that the government was hiring mercenaries from elsewhere in Africa - they never showed us the evidence. Instead we saw the videos of black Libyans and other black Africans being lynched in public squares by NATOs ground troops - the rebels, with scores of people filming on their mobile phones and Western Special Forces looking on.
They said that Gaddafi was hated by his people, but they never showed us the 1.7 million people in a country of 6 million in Green Square on July the 1st. Or the masses in Tarhuna, in Suppa, in Bani Walid, in Sirte and across the country who demonstrated to pledge their allegiance to their leader and to the Jama Haria.
They never showed us the masses, as I said, of ordinary men and women who had accepted the government's offer of weapons to defend their families, neighborhoods and country from people who wish to condemn them to enslavement to imperialism. They said they were targeting Gaddafi's military forces - they ignored the 33 children, 32 women and 20 men who I saw buried in the small and traditional town of Marj in Zlitan in early August.
They said on August 20th or 21st that Tripoli fell without resistance. But they didn't tell us that in twelve hours alone 1,300 people were massacred in that city and 900 were injured.
They said that Tripoli fell without resistance and that Saif al-Islam (a son of Gaddafi) had been arrested and captured and that Gaddafi's compound Bab al-Aziza was taken by the rebels. But despite that Saif al-Islam himself showed up in the hotel where I was trapped and took a group of journalists outside to see with their very own eyes, they didn't show us the thousands of people filling Bab al-Aziza and the streets of Tripoli waving the green flag on the night of August 22nd.
They said that Tripoli fell without resistance. But they didn't show us that in the 24 hours after those journalists from all the West's major networks had seen at the site that Bab al-Aziza alone was pounded 63 times with NATO bombs.
They didn't show us how all the gatherings of the people to defend their capital from those who wish to send back to the times of colonial puppet King Idris were attacked with missiles and Apache gunships.
They didn't show us how the brave people of Abu-Sleem - the poorest area of Tripoli and the staunchest area of support for Gaddafi, resisted for five days until on August 24th NATO attacked anything that moved and piles of bodies lined the streets.
They told us that the country was liberated. Six weeks later the rebels have conceded that they won't be able to move their headquarters to the capital. The rebels have confirmed - I think it was today - that they won't be able to take Bani Walid and Sirte also remains strong.
So... Gaddafi - mass murderer - hated by his people so much that they would beg NATO to bomb their own country - hated so much that the capital city fell without resistance.
Or NATO - mass murderer, killing the Libyan masses because they would die for their leader just like in Tripoli.
I know which one we have mountains of evidence for.
In fact, there is so much evidence that even the conservative party's own mouthpiece The Telegraph has been unable to hide from it. Amongst their numerous reports showing that the rebels lacked the popular support that Gaddafi enjoys, one article published this week reported what I heard throughout my stay in Tripoli. A resident of Sirte Susan Fajan said, "We lived in democracy under Muammar Gaddafi. He was not a dictator - I lived in freedom. Libyan women had full human rights. It isn't that we need Muammar Gaddafi again, but we want to live just as we did before."
In the same article 80-year-old Mabuka says, "Life was good under Gaddafi. We were never afraid." Again in the same article another elderly lady say, "They are killing our children. Why are they doing this - for what? Life was good before." And yet another says, "Everyone loved Gaddafi and we love him because we love Libya. Now the rebels have taken over. We might have to accept that, but Muammar will always be in our hearts."
The spectacular u-turn of al-Jazeera from being a somewhat critical voice of imperialism's wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to being an open facilitator of the same aggression against Libya, Syria and even now the progressive nations of Latin America, was perhaps the greatest propaganda trick I have seen in my lifetime.
Co-opting the support of their faithful Arab viewers in the West whose voices garnered particular prominence during the fashionable so-called Arab Spring was an important move in order to get all progressive circles in the West to join in the essential criminalization of Gaddafi when those very circles should have in contrast been elevating the status of the not so fashionable Libyan al-Jama Haria and learning from it.
Now all cards are on the table. Al-Jazeera's Director General Wadah Khanfar has resigned following the release of Wikileaks cables, which revealed he has been taking orders from none other than the CIA. He has been replaced by a member of the Qatari royal family, which has been heavily engaged in the war against its fellow Arab brothers and sisters in Libya.
But despite the role of al-Jazeera being clear as day now it continues to get away with the same tricks of tugging on the liberal heartstrings of westernized audiences with its stories about how people in sovereign states of the global south's greatest tragedy is their lack of Western democracy. Never mind that it has failed in the West. Al-Jazeera's interest in championing this ideology is obviously straight forward - it hosts the US largest military base in the Middle East and they are of course close friends.
Leaving the Rixos Hotel where I had been trapped for five days was the most surreal and probably the worst day of my life. It was a bad day. The safe secure welcoming city full of life and warmth that I had driven through days previously had transformed. It lay in ruins and you could not look in any direction without seeing guns or heavy weaponry. Many people had gone into hiding; had been killed and thousands of others had fled.
And the people that I knew who had remained and had been the very people who had helped me to learn about the glorious recent history of Gaddafi's Libya were inevitably traumatized and in a complete state of shock.
Libya reached a point, as Dan said, of having the highest standard of living in Africa - a high level of literacy; universal health care and free university education; a high status for women in society and the greatest degree of equality for the large black population for the whole of North Africa and the Middle East. Those 40 years of revolutionary achievements have now been reversed.
And for what? A year ago after crippling wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and with a growing economic crisis of the imperialist nations it seems a remote possibility that the West would have the capacity to embark on another costly and embarrassing war. It seems that the hegemony of the West was rapidly on its way out.
But as Gaddafi's close brother Hugo Chavez said in his recent letter to the United Nations General Assembly - "Right now there is a very serious threat to global peace," he said. "... A new cycle of colonial wars, which started in Libya with the sinister objective of refreshing the capitalist global system."
He knows that his country will be targeted in that cycle with the very same model that they used against Libya and are now using against Syria. In the absence of an effective anti-imperialist media that can challenge and preempt the tricks of imperialism through its global media it is the role of all progressive people to champion the sovereign states of the global south who, like Libya and Syria, are a thorn in the sides of the West.
Otherwise they will be picked off one by one to add fuel to the dying fire of imperialism.
And on that note I want to end with my wholehearted thanks to the heroic green Libyan resistance, which continues to amaze the world in their ability to stave off the world's most powerful military machine. As Gaddafi said, not only are they defending Libya, but also Syria, Iran, Algeria, the African continent and the entire global south.