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‘Going pains’ of a despotic regime

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Mustafa K Anuar waits with bated breath to see if and when Asean member states, particularly Malaysia, will join in the wave of international condemnation of the Libyan regime’s massacre of unarmed people.

Photo credit: abc.net.au

The Libyan state television broadcast a musical programme at a time when ordinary Libyans who have been protesting peacefully in Tripoli (and elsewhere in the country) were being brutally killed and injured by sections of the army and other state apparatus.

This is, indeed, in the eyes of the ordinary Libyan people, adding insult to injury at a time when hundreds in their midst are being killed by snipers, the military, police and, recently, aircraft raiding targeted areas of rebellion. In short, the ‘security forces’ have been unleashed to cause harm to their own people.

Showing a TV programme that was supposed to be entertaining, apart from a clip showing the support of sections of the population for the authoritarian leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is indicative of a desperate regime gasping for breath. It also reflects a deep disconnect between the ruler and the ruled that makes the former necessarily irrelevant to the lives of the latter.

No amount of distraction via TV programmes can gloss over the atrocities inflicted by the regime upon its own people. Neither can such TV fare coax ordinary Libyans into forgetting the many years of repression and political and economic neglect suffered by the people.

A period of some 42 years of authoritarianism, unaccountability, corruption and injustice has given birth to widespread political disenchantment, cynicism, economic despair and desperation, and seething anger among the general populace. The state’s brutal response to the generally peaceful protests has only heightened people’s resentment and disillusionment as well as strengthened their resolve to soldier on.

Gaddafi must face up to the fact that he has overstayed the people’s welcome, and that, to borrow the buzz slogan in the West Asian region, “the game is over”. His eventual departure from the Libyan political scene should not be executed, to paraphrase his son’s public statement recently, only after the last bullet has been fired.

The lives of ordinary Libyans should not be made an ugly sacrifice at the altar of a regime whose appetite for power, both political and economic, seems insatiable. To ignore this conduct of human decency is to commit a crime against humanity.

Many governments in the world, particularly those in Europe, have rightly and roundly condemned the atrocities that have been inflicted upon the Libyan people, and also demanded a stop to this mayhem. To be sure, brutal attacks on unarmed people aren’t really a Libyan domestic problem any more; the massacre of helpless people warrants unconditional condemnation from members of the international community. Besides, the Libyan regime should be made an example of, to deter others in the region from acting likewise.

One waits with bated breath to see if and when Asean member states, particularly Malaysia, will follow suit in this wave of condemnation. Human lives and dignity are at stake here.

Mustafa K Anuar is assistant secretary of Aliran

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