[Marxism] Libya

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 2 18:06:40 MDT 2016

(From Vijay Prashad's "Dispatches from the Arab Spring")

by Anjali Kamat and Ahmad Shokr

After nearly three decades, the gates of Abu Salim were wide open. For 
Libyans, the very name of the prison still evokes nightmares, visions of 
a purgatory from which one might never return. A symbol of the terror 
that came to define Muammar Qaddafi’s forty-two-year rule, Abu Salim was 
where even the regime’s mildest critics feared they would end up if they 
aired their grievances too loudly, or to the wrong person. But in 
September 2011 the grim compound was flooded with visitors: former 
prisoners showing their families the insides of the small windowless 
cells where they lost so much of their lives, neighborhood residents 
curious about this symbol of Qaddafi’s terror, and returned exiles 
searching for traces of the regime’s past abuses.

As we wandered through the prison, Khaled Al Agily, a Benghaziborn exile 
who founded the Geneva-based rights group Libya Human Rights Solidarity, 
showed us around. His organization has been at the forefront of 
international efforts to bring to light the country’s worst postcolonial 
massacre. Walking through the open-air courtyards where the killings 
took place, Khaled told us the story—well-known across Libya—of how it 
unfolded (personal interview 2011a). On June 28, 1996, a riot broke out 
in the prison, started by a small group of Islamist prisoners who were 
agitating for better conditions, increased family visits, and fair 
trials. Libyan security chief Abdullah Senussi arrived on the scene and 
promised a fair resolution, but the next morning, armed security forces 
executed an estimated twelve hundred political prisoners in the space of 
three hours.

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