BLOOD IN THE SAND: A WORLD CITIZEN PROTEST TO REPRESSION IN LIBYA
By René Wadlow
Surely, I said
Now will the poets sing
But they have raised no cry
I wonder why
Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song
We, citizens of the world, determined to safeguard future generations from war, poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation, have always stood for a simple yet powerful idea: that humanity on this planet, must think of itself as one society and must unite in developing the basic policies that advance peace with justice.
The Right to Life — a reverence for life — is the core value upon which our efforts for human rights, for the resolution of conflicts, and for ecologically-sound development is based.
Thus, we are encouraged by the waves of efforts for democracy and social justice that are sweeping over North Africa and the Middle East. We salute the courage of those who have brought change and an opportunity for justice in Tunisia and Egypt. The people’s revolution for dignity and social justice is on the march. The march will not be broken, although the old structures of repression try to hold back the future with force.
We are sad when we note a loss of life in different countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East, nearly always the life of a protester at the hands of the military, the police or militia forces.
We are particularly concerned with the repression and loss of life due to the forces of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Although foreign journalists have been refused entry and Internet and phone lines have been disrupted, we have received reports made in good faith of widespread repression and killings by special commandos and government-sponsored snipers. These actions seem to constitute a widespread and systematic practice.
Therefore, we first call upon the Government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to uphold universally-recognized human rights and to prevent the disproportionate use of force by its agents.
Secondly, we call upon the Member States of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has the duty to address situations of the systematic violation of human rights, to organize an Emergency Special Session to mandate a fact-finding team of independent experts to collect information on possible violations of international human rights law.
Thirdly, we call upon the representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations and other representatives of civil society to raise their voices so that all will hear their determination to protect the Right to Life and Human Dignity.
When in 1931 in the USA, the Scottsboro Boys — a group of nine Blacks — were tried for rape in Alabama under conditions which prevented a fair trial, the poet Countree Cullen was listening for the voices of protest, for the calls for justice, but he heard no such cries and wondered why.
Let it not be said of us that when the blood of protesters in Libya flowed int the sand, no cries were heard.
René Wadlow is Senior Vice President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.