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Libya: journalists prepare for ‘floodgates to open’ | Media | guardian.co.uk

Libya: journalists prepare for ‘floodgates to open’

Newspaper journalists and broadcasters descend on Libyan border as uprising threatens Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule

    Lindsey Hilsum Channel 4 News international editor Lindsey Hilsum has been sent to Egypt’s border with Libya. Photograph: Channel 4Journalists from newspapers and broadcasters across the world, including ITV News and the New York Times, are descending on the Libyan border as anti-government protests intensify against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

    A blanket ban on foreign journalists entering Libya has meant that facts are increasingly hard to verify.

    The BBC is one of the only international news organisations with a correspondent in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, where government and state television buildings came under attack on Monday.

    Many western news organisations – including the Associated Press, the Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian – have been restricted to reporting from neighbouring countries, usually Egypt.

    However, the world’s media was today preparing for the “floodgates to open” on Egypt’s western border as the uprising threatens to engulf Gaddafi’s 41-year rule in Libya.

    Ashraf Khali, a Cairo-based freelance correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Times, said on Twitter: “International media in Cairo is heading en masse to the Egypt Libya border and just waiting for the floodgates to open.”

    ITN, which produces ITV News and Channel 4 News, said it had deployed eight people to Egypt’s border with Libya. They include Channel 4 News international editor Lindsey Hilsum and ITV News senior correspondent James Mates.

    “Our newsrooms are working closely with local sources in Libya to help us cover this major international news story to the best of our ability,” an ITN spokeswoman told the MediaGuardian.co.uk. “Operationally, while we can’t yet enter Libya, we are committed to providing extensive coverage for our viewers.”

    Jon Williams, the BBC’s world news editor, said there would be an “almighty scrambling” to report from Tripoli if the city fell into the hands of protesters, like the country’s second city of Benghazi last week.

    Despite having one permanent correspondent in Tripoli and staff journalists from the BBC World Service’s Arabic operation, the BBC was still “relying on those on the ground to tell us what’s happening”, Williams wrote on the BBC’s editors blog.

    “Their phone accounts – often accompanied by the sound of gunfire and mortars – are vivid. However, inevitably, it means we cannot independently verify the accounts coming out of Libya. That’s why we don’t present such accounts as ‘fact’ – they are ‘claims’ or ‘allegations’,” he said.

    A spokeswoman for Sky News said: “We’re pulling on the expertise of our journalists who are in the region, and likewise from the team in London, and are continuing to explore further how we might be able to report from Libya.”

    In a state TV broadcast, Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, on Sunday said foreign media had inflated the scale of the uprising, and that the Libyan army would “eradicate” enemies of the state.

    Heather Blake, the UK director of press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders, told MediaGuardian.co.uk that international media was almost invisible in Libya, where attacks on local journalists have increased in recent days.

    “With Egypt we were inundated with calls from international media about arrests and attacks on them, but in Libya – unless they’re not experiencing any problems – there’s been no contact from international media,” Blake said.

    “We’ve been contacted by family members of Libyan journalists who were arrested over the weekend and are still missing. We have no representative in Libya because you can’t promote press freedom and not be detained or killed there at this point.”

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I have been following the uprising in Libya in the past few days. The crimes of Qaddafi against the people of Libya is making me sick and I can’t stop thinking about how it feels to be Libyan and live under such a lunatic dictator for 42 years.

The people of Iran have lived under IRI’s dictatorship for more than 30 years now, but compare to Qaddafi, Khamenei is a sane person. His lunacy has no limit, his crimes against his own people have absolute no boundaries and the world leaders seems to be OK with him these days since he has now agreed to be part of the ‘global economy’ and is friend with bastards like Berlusconi and others.

This brutal man is so afraid of his own people that he is using foreign mercenaries to kill his people. When the news of mercenaries came out, I could not believe it. But then I saw videos and images of those capture by Libyans like these:

And videos like these from those captured or killed by the people:

This one supposedly shows some of them captured by Army untis who have changed side.

The world needs to react before this mad man can kill thousands of innocent people. We can not stand by and see this massacre to go on.

Deadly ‘day of rage’ in Libya – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Libyan protesters seeking to oust longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi have defied a crackdown and taken to the streets on what activists have dubbed a “day of rage”.

There are reports that more than a dozen demonstrators have been killed in clashes with pro-government groups.

Opponents of Gaddafi, communicating anonymously online or working in exile, urged people to protest on Thursday to try to emulate popular uprisings which unseated long-serving rulers in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

“Today the Libyans broke the barrier or fear, it is a new dawn,” Faiz Jibril, an opposition leader in exile, said.

Live Blog

Abdullah, an eyewitness in the country’s second largest city of Benghazi, who spoke to Al Jazeera, said that he saw six unarmed protesters shot dead by police on Thursday.

He also said that the government had released 30 people from jail, paying and arming them to fight people in the street.

Opposition website Libya Al-Youm said four protesters were killed by snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of al-Baida, which had protests on Wednesday and Thursday, AP news agency reported.

“Libya is a free country, and people, they can say, can show their ideas, and the main thing is that it has to be in the frame of the law and it has to be peaceful, and that’s it, ” Libyan ambassador to the US, Ali Suleiman Aujali, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

Sites monitored in Cyprus, and a Libyan human rights group based abroad, reported earlier that the protests in al-Baida had cost as many as 13 lives.

When asked about the people who had allegedly been killed, Aujali told Al Jazeera “I’m really very busy here … and I have some delegations, and I don’t have time to follow up with every piece of news.”

“I am confident that Libya will handle this issue with great respect for the people,” he said.

Increasing casualties

Mohammed Ali Abdellah, deputy leader of the exiled National Front for the Salvation of Libya, said that hospitals in al-Baida were experiencing a shortage of medical supplies, saying the government had refused to provide them to treat an increasing number of protesters.

Protests in Libya

Dima_Khatib profile

Dima_Khatib لا فيس بوك ولا قطاف جزيرة : القائد زعيم وما زعامة لغيره —> مكتوب على شاشة قناة الجماهيرية الحكومية الآن #libya #feb17 #fb 11 hours ago · reply 10+ recent retweets

monaeltahawy profile

monaeltahawy I salute the courageous sisters and brothers in #Libya for loudly clearly telling #Gaddafi OUT! World’s longest serving dictator #Feb17 8 hours ago · reply 10+ recent retweets

Lady_Gabina profile

Lady_Gabina #Libyan thugs bypassed the tear gas and went straight for live ammo. Please help spread the word. There is NO ind MEDIA in Libya. #Feb17 3 hours ago · reply 10+ recent retweets

Abdellah quoted hospital officials in the town as saying that about 70 people have been admitted since Wednesday night, about half of them critically injured by gunshot wounds.

The Quryna newspaper, which is close to Gaddafi’s son, cited official sources and put the death toll at two. It traced the unrest to a police shutdown of local shops that had soon escalated.

The interior ministry fired the head of security in Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar province in the aftermath of the violence, in which protesters had torched “several police cars and citizens,” the paper said on its website.

Several hundred supporters of Gaddafi also gathered in the capital, Tripoli, to counter calls for anti-government protests and they were joined by Gaddafi himself.

‘Down with Gaddafi’

Clashes also broke out in the city of Zentan, southwest of the capital, in which a number of government buildings were torched.

Fathi al-Warfali, a Swiss-based activist and head of the Libyan Committee for Truth and Justice, said two more people were killed in Zentan on Thursday ,while one protester was killed in Rijban, a town about 120km southwest of Tripoli.

He said protesters on Thursday in the coastal city of Darnah were chanting “`the people want the ouster of the regime” – a popular slogan from protests in Tunisia and Egypt – when thugs and police attacked them.

A video provided by al-Warfali of the scene in Zentan showed marchers chanting and holding a banner that read “Down with Gaddafi. Down with the regime.”

Another video showed protests by lawyers in Benghazi on Thursday demanding political and economic reform while a third depicted a demonstration in Shahat, a small town southwest of Benghazi.

Government warning

Libya has been tightly controlled for over 40 years by Gaddafi, who is now Africa’s longest-serving leader.

Thursday is the anniversary of clashes that took place on February 17, 2006 in Benghazi, when security forces killed several protesters who were attacking the city’s Italian consulate.

According to reports on Twitter, the microblogging site, Libya’s regime had been sending text messages to people warning them that live bullets will be fired if they join today’s protests.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Libyan authorities had detained 14 activists, writers and protesters who had been preparing the anti-government demonstrations.

Al-Warfali said 11 protesters were killed in al-Baida on Wednesday night, and scores were wounded. He said the government dispatched army commandos to quell the uprising.

In a telephone interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Idris Al-Mesmari, a Libyan novelist and writer, said that security officials in civilian clothes came and dispersed protesters in Benghazi using tear gas, batons and hot water.

Al-Mesmari was arrested hours after the interview.

Media blocked

Late on Wednesday evening, it was impossible to contact witnesses in Benghazi because telephone connections to the city appeared to be out of order.

Social media sites were reportedly blocked for several hours through the afternoon, but access was restored in the evening.

Al Jazeera is understood to have been taken off the state-owned cable TV network, but is still reportedly available on satellite networks.

Though some Libyans complain about unemployment, inequality and limits on political freedoms, analysts say that an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use oil revenues to smooth over most social problems.

Libya accounts for about two per cent of the world’s crude oil exports.

Companies including Shell, BP and Eni have invested billions of dollars in tapping its oil fields, home to the largest proven reserves in Africa.