Tripoli Eyewitness 3/11/11
This interview video on Al Manara tells of Tripoli in the beginning of the uprising.
Here is the translation, contributed by a participant in Mo's Libya Alhurra chatroom on http://www.livestream.com/libya17feb
He is talking to Al Manara station. “At the beginning, all of Tripoli went out – in Pin ashor, Fashloom, Arrada and many more. When we arrived in Arrada the snipers started shooting us, there were 20 deaths at a minimum. They didn’t allow us to take the bodies; they took them. They killed the injured ones. I was in the middle of this. They took the bodies from hospitals and also the injured, they killed them. Then they opened the jail for the criminals go out, and they gave them money and cars. They took the cars from a car agency without even paying money to the owner ; they took all the cars he had.
The Gaddafi supporters were wearing normal clothes and came with us to the meeting place of anti-Gaddafi protesters and started shooting people. We didn’t know who was with us and who was not. They killed people randomly, like, one lady she was talking in the phone in her house balcony. I saw her with my own eyes.
On February 25th, it was a bloody day. We were trying to make Molotov cocktails, but they didn’t give us much in the gas station – maximum 3 dinars-worth. We couldn’t get the gas out of the gas tanks of some of the modern cars, and if it was an old model car we got only a small amount, and some refused to give us any. There was a lot of security in the gas stations, and some days they closed it when there was no more gas.
Other days, they brought orphans and prisoners to the Green Square. They gave them 100 dinars every day. They put them in a hotel, and gave them food and everything.
During the Friday prayer they shut down the microphones. They started singing and shouting outside of the mosques while the people were praying. They gave 100 dinars per person; if you brought all of your family to the Green square, you got 500 dinars, like a promotion. I was there at night; I swear by God drink and drugs were free, I saw it with my own eyes. Most of them were carrying knives and white weapons (metal sticks).
On Friday they brought Iveco vans full of them, and they attacked us. But, we burned one van. They started to arrest people. When we saw the journalists, then there was no shooting, only smoke. They also arrested me, and they covered our eyes. We didn’t know where they were taking us. After that, they took all our money and mobile phones and car keys. They just returned my car keys back to me, but not the mobile phone nor the money.
But I could see a bit from under the blinder. They took us to the intelligence building; we stayed there until 7 P.M. We were not allowed to move or to talk. They were beating some people, but we could not see anything.
Then they took us to another place; we were thinking it was Bab al Azizia, but then we recognized it as the Department of Public Support. Then they keep asking us questions and took our fingerprints. If they see it’s not a big thing, they will let you go after maybe three days, but I met some people who were already there for 10 days.
There were four brothers from Suq al Jumoaa. They arrested them in an unhuman way . They said that they arrested them from inside their house. They pulled the hair of their 80-year-old father. He was weak, and couldn’t even walk properly. Then they left him in the middle of the road. Then their cousin came out to see what was going on and they arrested him as well. This cousin told them that he saw a recognized one of the Gaddafi supporters. He was one of the people living in the same area. He covered his face, and kept asking the others not to mention him because they knew him.
In so many places there local people working as a guide. It’s not easy for the people who are not from those places to know all the small roads and areas, like in Tagora - there are a lot of farms there. My friend saw a local guy showing the way to Gaddafi people at 3 A.M Then they brought in the Africans to shoot the people. Then they collected the bodies and ran away to an unknown place. “
Questioner: “Are the families looking for the bodies or for the missing people?”
“Yes, even me, when I was arrested, my family kept looking for me, but they told my family that they didn’t see me in hospitals or police stations.
I didnt see it with my own eyes, but some people told me that they took the bodies to the sea, and some people told me that they were burning them. When the family had someone die at the hospital, they had to sign a paper that this person was killed by terrorists, and just four people can bury the body. You can’t receive people in your house after this. My friend died. “
Questioner: “How is life there?”
“The first few days, there were some open shops and bakeries, then not any more. Until nowadays -they are forcing them to open even the furniture shops, just to show that everything is okay. You can’t get much money from banks, you can’t take out more than 1000 dinars. US dollars are very expensive. You can’t leave Libya by the airport. They keep asking a lot of questions. Schools are closed. They forced them to open, but people are afraid to send kids to school. They will use them and force them to go to Green Square and shout for Gaddafi, or he wiil use them to protect himself in Bab al Azizia.”
Questioner asked about the gun fire last sunday coming from Bab al Azizia.
“Yes, there were gunfire sounds at 5 A.M., heard by some of my friends living near by. It was very heavy, using heavy weapons until 7 A.M. There was no mobile coverage during the gunfire. Some Gaddafi supporters used their guns and shot in the air and said that they were celebrating the victory of getting some cities back. But my friends told me there was a very big ball of fire, and some said that Hassan al Kabeer died in there and not in Zawia. Some said that Khamis al Gaddafi died there. Really it was heavy fighting.”
Questioner: “What do Tripoli people do to watch what is going on in other Libyan cities?”
“By internet and TV when we can and by mobile phones. March 10th, They were arresting a lot of people for no reason, just to make the people scared. If they arrest around 400 people from one place, so who is going out? They surround the mosques. In the city, it’s easier for them, but Tajurra is big and has farmland, so they concentrate on the center. They are using families, so a lot of people can’t go out and leave the women and kids alone. Also, they are giving money so some local people take money and guide them. They try to make people scared of going out. The problem is the prisoners, especially the ones who they use to kill people; I know two of them and they are free. One call to them and a big army will come even if they hate someone. They control the center of Tripoli. They are giving them free alcohol and drugs. They serve it in Green Square and most of them are drunk; I saw it with my own eyes.
( Other Tripoli Eyewitness statements are available from our Selected Translations page.)