In some towns in the south of Libya Gaddafi loyalists have been warning people they shouldn’t register to vote for the planned June 19 elections here because Gaddafi is bound to return and then they would be punished. I am told some people actually believe that.
A U.S.-educated woman here in Tripoli told me that during the Libyan revolution when NATO was bombing targets in Tripoli her three children – ages, 12, 8 and 5 – were very excited. “Weren’t they scared?” I asked. She responded: “No, because we told them the bombing was hurting bad people and was being done by people who were coming to help us. Our parents were saying, ‘don’t tell them that, we don’t know who will win and Gaddafi could come back.'”
So-called “glorification” legislation issued recently by the National Transitional Council that makes it an offence punishable with up to life imprisonment to say anything in praise of the Gaddafi regime or to be detrimental about the revolution has attracted criticism. Mohammed Allagi, president of the National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights, slams the legislation as a “violation of human rights and a dangerous set back.”
Schools have stopped teaching the history of Libya since 1969 to avoid falling foul of the law. “We are meant to pretend like it never happened and my principal is adamant that 42 years of Libyan history should be erased,” says a 38-year-old woman teacher, who asked not to be named. At her Tripoli school the covers of history books sporting the green flag of the old Libya have been ripped off and chapters dealing with Gaddafi have been cut out.
The teacher asked what she should do if her pupils asked questions about the past. “Tell them nothing,” came the response.
“People feel they are walking a thin line, there are lots of guns and militias still around,” adds the teacher, who says the happiest day of her life came on October 23 when the Gaddafi regime finally crumbled. “It was a wonderful day,” she says with eyes shining. But she worries about the nervousness now and says people are being careful to watch their words.
Forgot to post my Maclean’s article on the death of the only man convicted for the Lockerbie bombing. Here it is.