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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Libyan Protester: ‘It’s A Massacre Here’

A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011 in this image taken from TV. (AP/APTN)

A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011 in this image taken from TV. (AP/APTN)

Here & Now Guest:

Ahmed, protester in Tripoli, Libya

On Tuesday, the streets of Tripoli were littered with the bodies of slain protesters, after two bloody nights in the capital Tripoli, during which pro-government forces cracked down on anti-government demonstrators.

“People tried to speak peacefully, they were unable, now they’re being gunned down,” said 31-year old Libyan protester, Ahmed, speaking on WBUR’s Here & Now. He didn’t want to use his full name due to security concerns.

Human Rights Watch reports that more than 60 bodies have been taken to hospital morgues in Tripoli since Sunday, and more than 230 people have been killed outside the capital in recent days.

“We want freedom. The Libyan youth has spoken, everyone in Libya has spoken. And they’re willing to give up their lives for the sake of freedom.”

– Ahmed, protester in Libya

“It’s a massacre here,” Ahmed said. “This hasn’t happened since the days of Rwanda… It’s as bad as that. People are being gunned down, machine guns… They’re using anti-aircraft missiles, they’re using the strong bullets that are going right through walls.”

Ahmed said hospitals are at full capacity, and families are struggling to get the bodies of the dead back. But he insisted that protests will continue.

“We want freedom. The Libyan youth has spoken, everyone in Libya has spoken. And they’re willing to give up their lives for the sake of freedom.”

In a speech Tuesday, Col. Moammar Gadhafi vowed to fight mass protests against his regime, and refused to step down. He called protesters “rats” and agents of foreign powers.

“I am a fighter from the countryside,” Gadhafi said through a translator. “I led a revolution that brought honor to Libyans, generation after generation. Libya will lead the whole world. Nobody can stop this historic march.”

But protester Ahmed sees a different future for the Libyan leader.

“He’s done,” Ahmed said. “He cannot step down and remain in the country. He will be eaten alive by his people. He cannot kill as many people in cold blood and get away with it. ”

Ahmed remains somewhat hopeful about the outcome of the protests.

“When you’re on the bottom there’s no way but up. Whatever we get is better than this. We’re not going to get another dictator like this… So we’re going to take steps and we’re going to develop… Europe’s done it, the West has done it… they’ve all had times where they’ve had to be embattled to gain complete freedom to become a democracy, now it’s our turn.”

–Compiled by Jill Ryan, with reporting from the Associated Press


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