Libya: Tawargha, Bani Walid, Sirte Now Ghost TownsPueblos fantasmas de Libia

The making of a ghost town

By Karlos Zurutuza

English | Spanish

TAWARGHA, Libya – Omar Embarka crumbles when she sees the pictures of the Libyan city where she was born and lived until two months ago.

“We will be back in Tawargha one day,”

the 25-year-old repeats to herself. The images say otherwise.

The abandoned Latam district in Tawargha. (Photo: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS).

Tawargha had been Muammar Gaddafi’s headquarters during the terrible two-month siege of the “rebel” enclave of nearby Misrata,187 km southeast of capital Tripoli. Once a vibrant city of 30,000 inhabitants, the vast majority of them black, Tawargha has turned into a huge “supermarket” where families from nearby Misrata load their vehicles with the spoils of looting, and militias torch the houses, probably to prevent Omar Embarka and others like her from returning some day. Today, Tawargha – “green island” in the Amazigh language – is just a ghost town in the middle of the Libyan desert.

Tawarghans who survived the war gather today at refugee camps like the one in Fallah, a district south of Tripoli. Embarka belongs to one of the hundred families who have found refuge in the former barracks which housed the workers of a Turkish construction company. The broken voices echoing off the corrugated iron walls help reconstruct one of the missing pieces in the Libyan war’s puzzle.

“When the war started in February, many Tawarghans living in Misrata came back home,” recalls Embarka.

“Gaddafi had turned our city into a stronghold from which they led the assault against Misrata and, overnight, there were almost as many soldiers as civilians,” she says.

Embarka, who was a medical student, volunteered at the hospital in Tawargha to help in the surgical department.

“In early summer, supplies began to fail; food, medicines … we didn’t even have anaesthesia for the amputations. We suffered heavy shelling almost all the time and our last five doctors, all of them from North Korea, left in July,”

says this young woman, who still volunteers at the camp’s humble medical centre.

Bashir Youssef will never forget the lack of medical care. He might have been a father in July had he been able to take his pregnant wife to the hospital in Hisha – 80 km south of Tawargha.

“Gaddafi’s soldiers had blocked the way out of Tawargha and they did not let us go. They said it was for our own safety,”

remembers this former taxi driver, today without a vehicle or a city to drive it around in.

The situation in Tawargha was becoming increasingly unbearable for everybody.

The final assault over Tawargha started “officially” on Aug. 10, when NATO aircraft

“hit three Command and Control Nodes and two Military Storage Facilities In the vicinity of Tawargha,”

according to the military coalition’s press release. However, witnesses from this refugee camp and the one in Tarik Matar, five kilometres south of Tripoli, say that the NATO attacks started much earlier, and that even the city centre was pounded.

Homes ablaze in Tawarga during its occupation in September 2011 by Libyan “rebels” in. Its mostly black population fled in August. (Photo: Irina Kalshnikova)

On Aug. 12, Tawargha shifted from chaos to a nightmare that everybody was struggling to leave behind.

“People tried to stop our car, begging us to let them inside. We were eight in the car and we couldn’t take anybody else with us,”

recalls Ahmed Farthini, a former resident of Tawargha now living in Fallah refugee camp.

Many of his neighbours fled on foot. Mohammed Jibril walked across the desert for two days until he reached Hisha. The 28-year-old says he’ll never forget that journey.

“I think that there were more than 300. Many fell down due to exhaustion and dehydration, but I could not do anything for them. It was a matter of sheer survival,”

says Jibril. He wonders whether the families of those who died in the desert ever got back the bodies.

Hisha, a little town halfway between Misrata and Sirte, became a safe haven for many refugees until it was also attacked. The attacks would continue towards the east, all the way down to Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.

“We were lucky enough to have relatives in Sirte so we could all stay with them,” says Ahmad Wail.

“But many of the refugees were told that their wives and children would be hosted at the local school only if they (the men) jumped into a truck bound for Brega, 250 km southwest of Benghazi, the ‘rebel’ capital, and fight over there.”

But Brega would also fall soon afterwards. Some Tawarghans would then leave for Sirte, where many would die during the massive obliteration of the town. The luckiest ones ended up in “rebel”-controlled Tripoli.

“When we arrived in Tripoli,” recalls Embarka,

“we were 60 living in a flat for a whole month. The men wouldn’t go out unless it was strictly necessary and we women never left the apartment. Many chose to stay on the beach because Tripoli is a very dangerous city for us.”

Embarka refers to the terrible harassment that the black population suffered in Tripoli over the last months.

On Sep. 4, Human Rights Watch warned that

“the widespread arbitrary arrests and frequent abuse have created a grave sense of fear among the city’s African population”.

Amnesty International also published several reports in this regard, many of which point to worrying cases like that of a patient from Tawargha who was taken from Tripoli’s Central Hospital to be

“interrogated in Misrata.”

For the time being, the National Transitional Council of Libya – also known by its French acronym CNT – has repeatedly stated that

“any abuse coming from whatever side should be thoroughly investigated.”

However, recent statements by Mahmud Jibril, former prime minister of the Council, have caused even deeper concern among the refugees.

Jibril reportedly told a public meeting at Misrata town hall:

“Regarding Tawargha, my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misrata.”

At the Tarik Matar refugee camp, Mohammed Mabrouk plays a video taken last on Nov. 1, in which a group of militias are dragging seven young men outside the camp.

Abdullah Tarhuni, a commander from Musa Binuser – one of the six militias allegedly involved in the incident – refuses to comment on the issue, but answers without hesitation when asked about a hypothetical return of the refugees to Tawargha:

“Tawargha no longer exists. In the future it will be called ‘New Misrata’.”


Source: IPS, Nov 25, 2011


Libya’s “other” victims

By Karlos Zurutuza

BANI WALID, Libya – Suleyman and Rasool have come to the University of Bani Walid, in western Libya. If they are lucky they might find some chemistry notes and, perhaps, a computer that works. Unfortunately it is not likely, since NATO reduced the campus to rubble.

Khaled Abdullah next to the hole in the wall of his home in Bani Walid, the last stronghold of the Gaddafi regime (Photo: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS).

Saif al Islam – Muammar Gaddafi’s son and heir apparent – had taken refuge in Bani Walid, a city of 80,000 people 150 km southeast of Tripoli. This city and Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, were the last two strongholds of the regime that ruled Libya for the last four decades.

“Why did NATO shell this place?”

complains Suleyman amid tons of twisted metal, rubble and papers blown around by the wind.

There is no sign whatsoever of a recent military presence here: no uniforms or mortar shells, not even the bullet cases that dot the broken streets of Bani Walid.

“There was a rumour about Musa Ibrahim – Gaddafi’s former spokesman – sleeping here, probably that’s why they bombed,”

says Rasool, standing next to a massive crater left by a NATO missile.

The brand-new red seats in the auditorium are among the few things that can be salvaged. A group of “rebels” are piling them up in the back of their pickup trucks.

“We are taking them with us to a safe place, there’s been a lot of looting here, you know?”

says Omar Rahman, one of the drivers.

But it’s already too late for the computer room in the annex building. There, two rows of intact yet empty computer desks suggest that a new Internet café might open its doors somewhere in Libya in the next few days.

The picture is equally bleak along the bazaar’s long avenue. Only one store has raised its blind. The shopkeeper, Rafiq, doesn’t want to talk. The blackened mannequins he is now removing from inside his shop speak for themselves.

“Zawiya Brigade”, “Misrata boys”, “Geryan forever” can be read along the alley – just some of the graffiti left by the more than forty “rebel” battalions that finally captured Bani Walid on Oct. 17, supported by NATO air strikes.

Most of the slogans on the walls look alike, but there is one that is repeated throughout the entire city: “Warfalas are dogs.” Bani Walid is the only “monotribal” location in the entire country. Everybody here belongs to the Warfalla clan, Libya’s biggest, made up of over one million people out of a total population of 6.4 million. Along with the Qaddadfa, they were the most loyal to Libya’s ousted ruler.

Few houses intact

It is almost impossible to find a house that hasn’t been burnt or looted in Bani Walid. In the southern district of Bahra, a projectile opened a hole the size of a window in Bubakhar Shaman’s apartment. The windows are broken and their shades have disappeared along with the curtains, the television and the radiators.

“They have plundered every house,”

the 51-year-old former aircraft technician complains in the courtyard, where there is a mountain of clothes and objects that nobody wanted. Shaman picks up a small, empty jewellery case.

“I wonder who is wearing these rings and earrings now.”

Breaking into Khaled Abdullah’s house was even easier. This 24-year-old truck driver was about to marry, and the couple were to move afterwards to the first floor of his family home. But all their dreams dashed out through the ugly hole in his wall.

“I left Bani Walid on Oct. 14, three days before the ‘rebels’ entered the city. My house was intact,”

says Abdullah, who is now renting a flat.

The stories are painfully similar throughout the city. Athila Athman Abdallah, 65, lost two of the trucks he had tried to protect by taking them to the outskirts of the city. Somebody set them ablaze. Nevertheless, Abdallah smiled today for the first time in months when his son brought back his car.

“It was in Geryan, southwest of Tripoli. We were told that they had spotted it so we went there to pick it up,”

explains Abdallah from the threshold of his house.

“Allah u akbar”- God is great – reads a graffiti next to him. Whether they painted it before or after taking his lamps and curtains and television is irrelevant at this point.

Abdallah says he will stay. But according to local sources, more than 100,000 civilians have fled the former Gaddafi strongholds of Sirte and Bani Walid since the war started in February. However, the number of those seeking refuge in camps could be much higher, as that is only the figure for those who registered.

Paying in gold

Sheikh Omar Mukhtar is the leader of the 45 militias currently in control of Bani Walid.

“Many people in Bani Walid were loyal to Gaddafi, so we had to check every single house to make sure nobody was hiding any weapons,”

the commander and tribal leader explains to IPS at his headquarters in the city’s airport.

Mukhtar says he does not know where Saif al Islam is. But he believes Gaddafi’s son had to escape on foot after the convoy he was travelling in was reportedly attacked by NATO last week.

“We heard the rocket but when we arrived there we only found the bodies of those who accompanied Saif,”

recalls Mukhtar.

The commander admits that looting has happened in Bani Walid, but says that compensation will be paid.

“We are almost ready to deliver three million Libyan dinars (1.5 million euros) in gold among the people who were affected,”

adds the commander.

Until that day arrives, Abdulhamid Saleh, a local resident, is producing a detailed census of all the victims among his neighbours. The 52 bullet holes in the door of his house attest that, although it was not an easy task, the assailants eventually managed to get in without knocking down the door.

“All these crimes must be brought to the authorities. No one in Bani Walid is willing to work with any administration that ignores us,”

says the electrical engineer. Among the personal things he has lost, there is one he misses most:

“They tore up my son’s school diploma, probably because it read ‘the Green School of Bani Walid'”

– green is the colour of the former government- says Saleh, who is seriously thinking of retaking his former position as a professor at the University of Manchester in England.

“Our city has been shelled by NATO and assaulted by militias coming from all parts of Libya,” complains Saleh.

“They call this ‘liberation’? To me this is nothing but a blatant occupation”.


Source: IPS, Oct 31, 2011


Sirte destroyed by NTC-NATO offensive in Libya

By Chris Marsden

The Libyan town of Sirte has been all but destroyed and its inhabitants turned into homeless refugees. This situation has gone largely unreported, but those press reports that have emerged paint a picture of a city being reduced to ruins by attacks of the National Transitional Council (NTC) “rebels” and NATO bombing raids against which it has no defense.

Sirte: before.

Sirte: after.

“After weeks of intense fighting, Moammar Gaddafi’s home town appeared Saturday to have been largely destroyed, with most of its population fled and holes the size of manhole covers blown in apartment buildings and the ousted leader’s showcase convention center,”

writes the Washington Post of Muammar Gaddafi’s coastal hometown of around 100,000 residents.

Once considered to be a showpiece of urban development in Libya, Sirte has been the target of NATO bombing and NTC attacks since shortly after the fall of Tripoli in late August. In the last ten days, it has been the object of an intensified offensive. The Post states that “the damage wreaked in Sirte raises the question of whether its residents will go quietly into the post-Gaddafi future—or retain a smouldering anger that could fuel an insurgency.”

The Telegraph in Britain, which backs Gaddafi’s ouster, nevertheless comments that Sirte, which once had

“a brilliant panoply of university and hospitals, with a glittering seafront and a marble-lined conference centre to host leaders from around the world,” is now “a squalid ruin.”

“’Rebel fighters’ gazing at the devastation concede it is difficult to see how much of it could ever be repaired and made habitable again,” it notes.

“The shattered remains of housing blocks and the wreckage of once comfortable homes…are more reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny, towards the end of Russia’s bloody Chechen war, than of anything seen in Libya so far. And the area around the grid of streets where anything between 200 and 500 loyalists are still holding out have become a killing ground, with loyalists, civilians and forces of the new Libyan government dying by the day.”

Former residents who have returned

“found almost every house and building either damaged by a rocket or mortar, burned out or riddled with bullets. Water floods the streets and the city’s infrastructure is in tatters,” writes Reuters.

These events shatter the pretences on which the NATO war against Libya was launched—i.e. claims that the possibility that Gaddafi might carry out mass reprisals against protesters justified a NATO intervention to disarm him. Far from planning reprisals against defenceless protesters, the Libyan army soon faced a war in which they were outclassed by NATO forces intervening to support the “rebels.” Reports from Sirte now suggest that the NTC forces are now carrying out collective punishment in the city.

Reuters comments:

“the ferociousness of the bombardment of Sirte and the burning of homes that belong to Gaddafi family members and supporters has raised suspicions that some fighters loyal to the NTC are looking for reprisals.”

It cited residents returning to Sirte and accusing NTC fighters

“of demolishing and looting homes, shops and public buildings.”

“They envy and hate us because Muammar is from here. But we are just civilians. The revolutionaries are coming here for revenge and destruction,” said a Sirte resident.

Another resident, Abu Anas, states:

“What’s happening in Sirte is revenge, not liberation. When someone comes and takes your personal car and destroys your home, this is not liberation.”

NTC forces

“clearly feel no need for restraint in bombarding the Gaddafi loyalists. That’s especially true of the many fighters from Misrata, a city to the west scarred by a bloody siege by Gaddafi’s troops in the spring,” the Post comments.

Numerous reports indicate that the NTC forces are looting the town.

“Orders from the National Transitional Council to outlaw looting have done nothing to deter the ‘rebel’ stragglers gutting abandoned buildings,” the Telegraph states.

Reuters reporters saw NTC fighters

“roaming the streets of Sirte with chairs, tyres and computers on the backs of their pickup trucks. Brand new BMW and Toyota cars were seen being driven away by the fighters and being towed outside of the city.”

Associated Press reporters

“also saw trucks carrying equipment from Sirte’s airport, including red-carpeted mobile staircases, baggage carts, airplane towing vehicles and security screening equipment, all apparently meant for Misrata’s badly damaged airport. Smaller pickups were loaded with rugs, freezers, refrigerators, furniture and other household goods, apparently taken by civilians and fighters to be used in their homes or resold.”

Tens of thousands of residents have fled the city. However, Gabriele Rossi, the emergency coordinator in Sirte for the Doctors without Borders charity organisation, told the Washington Post that doctors fear thousands of civilians may be trapped in the areas of the city still being contested:

“We are extremely concerned for those people that are inside [Sirte] and cannot get access to health care.”

A doctor for Doctors without Borders in Sirte has estimated that 10,000 people remain trapped in the city, including women and children, some sick or injured.

According to CNN, Doctors without Borders personnel working at the Ibn Sina hospital are still dealing with 50 patients yet to be evacuated. They are “mostly people who have suffered violent trauma, severe burns and fractures, according to MSF. Almost all patients need daily dressing and immediate medical care. There are also some pregnant women in the hospital.

“There is no water supply in the hospital and one of four operating theatres has been shelled,” the charity said.

“The medical staff has been working around the clock and are showing signs of exhaustion and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The total number of dead and injured in the onslaught cannot be determined. Information is scanter still regarding Bani Walid, also under NTC/NATO siege for weeks, which the NTC now claims to have captured.

The destruction of Sirte is a fitting testament to the true character of NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” into Libya. Begun with claims that military bombardment would save Benghazi, the illegal war of aggression has instead laid waste to large swaths of the country.

As for reconstruction, there are already indications that the imperialist powers intend to use the funds they have earmarked for Libya for further fighting, not rebuilding the devastated country.

Reuters reported this week that the emergency “relief fund” set up in a Qatari account to circumvent sanctions—now worth over half a billion US dollars—will no longer be available “for providing emergency cash” and will be used

“to invest in long-term projects… Thousands of Libyans fleeing fighting in the besieged cities of Sirte and Bani Walid are straining the resources of struggling nearby towns, but the emergency relief fund set up by foreign donors says it is no longer its job to help.”

In reality, only $130 million of the $500 million Temporary Financing Mechanism has been released and this has covered fuel, hospital bills and salaries.

Local authorities

“say they have only received a fraction of the money they need to cope with the flood of families escaping the fighting”

in Sirte and Bani Walid.

“In Tripoli, officials said the capital’s resources were also being tested by the arrival of thousands of internally displaced people and more money was needed to provide services in the capital.”

A local official said Tripoli has only actually received a paltry 15 million dinars, or $12.2 million.

“Most of Libya’s estimated $170 billion in frozen assets are still out of reach, and despite pledges by global powers to make money available, just one third of a promised $15 billion has been unfrozen,” the report concludes.

Yesterday UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was in Tripoli to reopen Britain’s embassy, which was looted and torched in May in angry response to NATO’s air strikes. He marked this “watershed” moment with a promise of a paltry £20 million ($32 million) for Libya’s stabilisation fund, another £20 million to support “political and economic reform,” and health care in the UK for at most 50 Libyans injured in the war.


Source: WSWS, Oct 18, 2011


Por Karlos Zurutuza

inglés | español

TAWARGHA, Libia – Embarka Omar se desmorona ante las fotos de esta ciudad libia, donde nació y vivió hasta hace dos meses.

“Algún día volveré”,

El abandonado distrito de Latam en Tawargha (Crédito: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS).

se dice a sí misma esta joven de 25 años. Pero sabe que las terribles imágenes ante ella le dicen lo contrario.

Tawargha fue el cuartel general de las fuerzas del ahora fallecido líder libio Muammar Gadafi para el terrible asedio que el enclave rebelde de Misurata, 187 kilómetros al este de Trípoli, sufrió durante casi dos meses.

La que fue una vibrante localidad de 30.000 habitantes, la inmensa mayoría de raza negra, hoy no es más que un enorme “supermercado” en el que las familias de Misurata llenan sus vehículos con el botín de los saqueos.

Muchas de las casas han sido incendiadas, probablemente para evitar que sean reocupadas algún día por sus antiguos habitantes. Tawargha (“isla verde”, en lengua amazig) ya no es más que una ciudad fantasma en mitad del desierto libio.

Los tawarghíes que han sobrevivido a la guerra se hacinan hoy en campos de refugiados como el de Fallah, al sur de Trípoli. Embarka Omar pertenece a una de las 100 familias que han encontrado refugio en los antiguos barracones de los obreros de una empresa de construcción turca.

Las voces quebradas retumbando contra las paredes de uralita nos ayudan a reconstruir las piezas que faltan en el rompecabezas de la guerra de Libia.

“Cuando empezó la guerra, en febrero, muchos tawarghíes residentes en Misurata se volvieron a casa”, recordó Omar.

“Gadafi convirtió nuestra ciudad en un bastión desde el que dirigió el asalto contra Misurata y, de un día para otro, había casi tantos soldados como habitantes”, añadió.

Todavía estudiante de medicina, Omar se había ofrecido como voluntaria en el hospital de Tawargha para atender aquella emergencia.

“A principios de verano empezaron a faltar los suministros; la comida, las medicinas… ni siquiera había anestesia para las amputaciones. Los bombardeos eran incesantes, y en julio se fueron los últimos médicos que teníamos en el hospital; eran cinco coreanos”,

recordó la joven, que sigue ayudando desde el botiquín en este campamento de refugiados.

Youssef Bashir recuerda muy bien la falta de asistencia médica. Habría sido padre en julio de haber podido llevar a su mujer embarazada al hospital Hisha, a 80 kilómetros al sur de Tawargha.

“Los soldados de Gadafi bloquearon los accesos y no nos dejaban salir. Decían que era para protegernos”,

contó este extaxista, hoy sin vehículo ni ciudad por la que conducirlo. Durante toda la guerra se ha especulado mucho sobre el uso de civiles como escudos humanos en el lado gadafista. Sea como fuere, la situación en Tawargha se acabó volviendo insostenible para todos.

Casas de Tawargha en Setiembre 2011 (Crédito: Irina Kalshnikova)

Huir del infierno

El asalto definitivo sobre Tawargha comenzó “oficialmente” el 10 de agosto, con un bombardeo de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) en el que la coalición aseguraba haber

“golpeado tres centros de control militar y dos arsenales de armas en las afueras de la ciudad”.

Sin embargo, testimonios recogidos tanto en este campamento como en el de Tarik Matar –a cinco kilómetros al sur de Trípoli- apuntan a que el acoso aéreo también golpeó el centro de la ciudad.

Dos días más tarde, Tawargha pasó del caos a un infierno que una marea humana luchaba por abandonar.

“La gente se nos cruzaba por la carretera suplicándonos que los sacáramos de allí. Ibamos ocho en el coche y no podíamos llevar a nadie más”, recordó Ahmed Farthini.

Aparentemente, muchos de aquellos que se quedaron huyeron a pie. Mohammed Jibril caminó durante dos días a través del desierto para llegar hasta Hisha, una travesía que este joven de 28 años no olvidará nunca.

“Calculo que éramos más de trescientos. Muchos caían exhaustos pero no podíamos hacer nada por ellos. Era una cuestión de pura supervivencia”,

recordó Jibril. Aseguró que no deja de preguntarse si los familiares de aquellos que murieron en el desierto habrán recuperado sus cuerpos.

Hisha se convirtió en escondite para muchos de los refugiados, hasta que esta localidad a medio camino entre Misurata y Sirte fue también atacada. La terrible odisea continuaría luego hacia el este, hasta la localidad natal de Gadafi. E incluso más allá.

“Yo tenia familia en Sirte y pude quedarme –explica Wail Ahmad–, pero a muchos de otros les dijeron que alojarían a sus mujeres y a sus hijos en el colegio a condición de que se subieran a un camión para ir a luchar a Brega”,

a 125 kilómetros al sureste de Bengasi, la capital rebelde.

Pero Brega tampoco tardaría en caer, por lo que la huída se produciría esta vez hacia el oeste, hacia la después aniquilada Sirte y la capital Trípoli, bajo control rebelde desde el 20 de agosto.

En Trípoli

“Cuando llegamos a Trípoli, vivíamos 60 personas en un piso durante un mes. Los hombres salían lo menos posible y las mujeres no lo hacíamos nunca. Muchos se quedaron en la playa porque Trípoli es un lugar muy peligroso para nosotros”,

contó Embarka, refiriéndose al terrible acoso que ha sufrido la población negra en la capital libia en los últimos meses.

Ya el pasado 4 de septiembre, Human Rights Watch alertaba que

“los arrestos arbitrarios generalizados y los abusos creaban un grave sentimiento de inseguridad en la población negra de la ciudad”.

Asimismo, Amnistía Internacional publicó varios informes a este respecto, muchos de los cuales señalaban inquietantes casos como el de un paciente de Tawargha que fue sacado del Hospital Central de Trípoli para ser

“interrogado en Misurata”.

El Consejo Nacional de Transición (CNT) insistió en que

“cualquier abuso, venga del lado que venga”, sería “investigado concienzudamente”.

No obstante, las declaraciones de Mahmud Jibril –el hasta hace poco primer ministro del CNT– en una comparecencia en el ayuntamiento de Misrata no invitaban al optimismo:

“Respecto de Tawargha, mi punto de vista es que nadie tiene derecho a intervenir en este asunto excepto la gente de Misurata”.

En el campamento de Tarik Matar, Mabrouk Mohammed mostró a IPS con su computadora portátil un vídeo tomado el 1 de este mes, en el que un grupo de milicianos se llevaba a siete jóvenes del lugar.

Abdullah Tarhuni, comandante de Musa Binuser –una de las seis milicias presuntamente implicadas en el caso– se negó a hacer declaraciones al respecto, pero respondió sin vacilar cuando se le preguntó por un hipotético regreso de los refugiados a Tawargha.

“Tawargha ya no existe, en adelante se llamará “Nueva Misurata”.


Fuente: IPS



Las otras víctimas de la guerra libia

Por Karlos Zurutuza

BENI WALID, Libia – Suleyman y Rasul han quedado de reunirse en la Universidad de Beni Walid, en el oeste de Libia. Con un poco de suerte, encontrarán unos apuntes de química y, quizás, un computador que funcione.

Jaled Abdulah junto al muro destruido de su casa en Beni Walid, último bastión de Gadafi (Crédito:Karlos Zurutuza/IPS).

No es fácil dar con ambos desde que la OTAN redujo el campus a escombros en octubre.

Bani Walid, una localidad de 80.000 habitantes 150 kilómetros al sureste de Trípoli, fue el último refugio del hijo y delfín de Muammar Gadafi, Saif al Islam. Junto con Sirte, fue también el último bastión de un régimen que estaba tocado de muerte hacía meses.

“¿Qué buscaba aquí la OTAN (Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte)?”,

se pregunta Suleyman en mitad de una pesadilla de hierros retorcidos, cascotes y papeles que reclama el viento.

No hay ni rastro de armamento, uniformes o cualquier otro objeto que invite a pensar que se trataba de un asentamiento militar. Ni siquiera los casquillos de bala –desperdigados en todos sus calibres por las calles de Bani Walid– son visibles entre este desastre.

“Corría el rumor de que Musa Ibrahim (el portavoz del gobierno de Gadafi) se escondía aquí mismo, por eso lo bombardearon”,

apunta Rasul junto a uno de los cráteres dejados por los cohetes de la OTAN.

Entre lo poco que se ha podido salvar, están las butacas rojas del aula magna. Un grupo de rebeldes las va cargando de ocho en ocho en las cajas de sus camionetas.

“Nos las llevamos para que nadie las robe”,

indica Omar Rahman, uno de los conductores.

Desgraciadamente, ya es demasiado tarde para el aula de informática. Dos hileras de mesas de computador intactas pero vacías anuncian la probable apertura de un Internet café en algún lugar de Libia.

El panorama es igualmente desolador por la avenida del bazar. Tan solo una tienda ha levantado la persiana. El tendero Rafiq no quiere hablar. Los maniquíes carbonizados que retira uno a uno del interior son suficientemente elocuentes.

“Brigada de Zawiya”; “Jóvenes de Misurata”; “Geryan siempre libre”, se lee en las paredes rotas de la ciudad. Se trata de eslóganes escritos por los más de 40 batallones de rebeldes que, junto con la cobertura aérea de la OTAN, “liberaron” Bani Walid el 17 de octubre.

Los grafitis son parecidos, pero hay uno que se repite insistentemente por toda la localidad: “Los warfala son perros”. No en vano estamos en la única ciudad de una sola tribu del país. Todos aquí pertenecen a la tribu de los warfala, el mayor clan de Libia: más de un millón de individuos en un total de seis millones. Junto con la tribu gadafa, los warfala fueron los más leales al depuesto régimen.

“Casa por casa”

Encontrar una casa intacta en Bani Walid es casi misión imposible. En el barrio de Bahra, un proyectil abrió un boquete del tamaño de una ventana en el apartamento de Shaman Bubajar. Las auténticas perdieron los cristales por la explosión, y sus persianas han desaparecido junto con las cortinas, la televisión y los radiadores.

“Saquearon casa por casa”,

denuncia este mecánico de aviones desde el patio interior del bloque de edificios donde residía. De entre una montaña de ropa y objetos que nadie ha querido llevarse todavía, Bubajar recoge a un pequeño joyero abierto, vacío, por supuesto.

“Me pregunto quién llevará esos anillos y pendientes ahora”.

Entrar en la casa de Jaled Abdulah es todavía más fácil. Estaba a punto de casarse y ya había acondicionado la primera planta de la vivienda familiar, cuando sus sueños se esfumaron por el boquete abierto en el muro a pie de calle.

“Me fui de Bani Walid el 14 de octubre, tres días antes de que entraran los rebeldes. Mi casa estaba intacta”,

asegura este camionero de 24 años, hoy desempleado y viviendo de alquiler.

Las historias son dolorosamente similares por toda la localidad. A Athila Abdulah Athman, de 65 años, le quemaron los dos camiones que había intentado proteger llevándolos a tres kilómetros de la ciudad. A pesar de todo, Athman ha podido esbozar hoy una sonrisa, por primera vez en mucho tiempo, cuando su hijo volvió con el coche que les habían robado.

“Estaba en Geryan, suroeste de Trípoli. Nos habían dicho que lo habían visto, y fuimos a buscarlo”,

explica Athman desde el umbral de su casa.

“Alá u akbar” (Dios es grande) pintaron en su pared antes o después de que alguien entrase a tiros y se llevase sus cortinas y sus lámparas.

Athman dice que se quedará, pero muchos se han ido. Según apuntan fuentes locales, más de 100.000 civiles escaparon de los antiguos bastiones gadafistas como Sirte y Bani Walid, aunque la cifra de quienes buscan refugio en campos de desplazados podría ser mucho mayor.

Oro para las víctimas

En el aeropuerto de Bani Walid se encuentra el cuartel general del jeque Omar Mujtar, el principal responsable de coordinar a las 45 milicias que tienen hoy el control de la ciudad.

“Gadafi tenía muchos seguidores aquí, y había que registrar cada casa para asegurarnos de que nadie escondía armas”,

explica este comandante y líder tribal que comparte nombre con el que fue símbolo de la lucha contra la ocupación italiana en las primeras décadas del siglo XX.

Mujtar desconoce el paradero real de Saif al Islam Gadafi, pero está convencido de que el que estaba destinado a suceder a su padre tuvo que escapar a pie.

“Oímos el cohete que alcanzó su convoy, pero cuando llegamos al lugar de la explosión solo encontramos los cadáveres de los que acompañaban a Saif”,

afirma el mando militar.

Antes de despedirnos, Mujtar admite que hubo saqueos, pero asegura que está preparando

“una compensación económica de tres millones de dinares libios (1,5 millones de euros) en oro para los afectados”.

Por el momento, Abdul Hamid Saleh, otro residente, está elaborando un censo detallado de todas las víctimas. Los 52 agujeros de bala en la puerta de su casa atestiguan que, si bien no debió de resultar tarea fácil, los asaltantes acabaron por entrar sin llamar.

“Todos estos crímenes han de ser llevados a las autoridades. Nadie en Bani Walid estará dispuesto a colaborar con ninguna administración que ignore esta barbaridad”,

explica este ingeniero mecánico.

De las pérdidas materiales, hay una que lamenta sobremanera:

“Han roto el diploma de estudios que le dieron a mi hijo en el colegio, probablemente porque se trataba de la Escuela Verde de Bani Walid”,

el color verde era el símbolo del antiguo gobierno, explica este hombre que está considerando retomar su antiguo empleo como profesor en la Universidad de Manchester.

“Nuestra ciudad ha sido bombardeada por la OTAN y asaltada por milicias llegadas de todas partes”,

se lamenta Saleh.

“¿A esto le llaman “liberación”? Para mí no es más que una ocupación en toda regla”.


Fuente: IPS via Webguerrillero

One comment on “Libya: Tawargha, Bani Walid, Sirte Now Ghost TownsPueblos fantasmas de Libia

  1. KANE MOHAMMED on said:

    This revolution is nothing else than a blatant occupation by former colonial powers.It is undoubtely an attempt to recolonize Africa.I’m strongly opposed to it.I’m an african living in the United States of America .How can they rebuild a country after purposefully having destroyed it.Barack Obama ,David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy should be brought before the International Criminal Court for the horrific crimes they’ve committed in Libya by massacring 50,000 innocent libyans.We need reparations now. By KANE MOHAMMED

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