Gadhafi death marks new hope for Libya liberation

Libyans celebrate as they hear news of long-time leader's death. Photo by Francois Mori/ Associated Press

Former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was killed last Thursday in his hometown stronghold of Sirte, months after the capitol city of Tripoli fell to rebel forces.

Gadhafi was the leader of Libya for more than 42 years in what the New York Times called “an erratic authoritarian rule.” The International Criminal Court at The Hague had issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi on June 27 on charges of crimes against humanity, including responsibility for the imprisonment and cruel murder of civilians, according to the New York Times.

Circumstances of Gadhafi’s death remain unclear, and calls for an investigation of his capture and death have been raised.

According to former acting Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, loyalist defense groups tried to protect Gadhafi, but the dictator was overrun and captured by the National Liberation Army, the military arm of Libya’s new de facto government the National Transitional Council.

Jibril said the deposed leader was subsequently killed in crossfire while in custody. One of Gadhafi’s sons, Moatessem, was also killed by NATO forces while the dictator’s convoy attempted to escape Sirte, the NTC said.

Two graphic videos released online Thursday morning showed a bloodied Gadhafi first being held by rebels, and then lying on the ground, apparently dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Subsequent photos released Friday morning on various news sites showed Gadhafi’s lifeless body with bullet holes, scratches and open wounds. Gadhafi’s body was held in a commercial freezer at a shopping center Friday in Misrata, according to the New York Times.

Peggy Harrington, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she felt the gruesome video of Gadhafi’s death was scary and offensive.

“I thought it shouldn’t be on television,” Harrington said. “It was uncalled for. I know he wasn’t a good guy but still … (the image of Gadhafi’s body) was unnecessary.”

Gadhafi’s death is the latest and most noteworthy development in Libya’s fight for freedom, part of the Arab Spring that spurred pro-democracy protests across the Arab world earlier this year.

Richard Friman, a professor of international politics at Marquette, said that eliminating Gadhafi is just the beginning of the political uprising.

“The movement seems to be for an elected government,” Friman said. “Now that the common enemy (Gadhafi) is gone, there is a potential for different groups to form and create this government.”

According to the New York Times, Gadhafi had been responsible for terrorist attacks throughout the 1980s. His most infamous attack was the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

The Arab League begged the United Nations Security Council to institute a “no-fly zone” over Libya in attempts to prevent Gadhafi from attacking his own people during the recent political uprisings, according to Al-Jazeera, a news site dedicated to covering Middle East news.

A coalition of foreign military forces, including the U.S., eventually enforced the no-fly zone to aid the anti-Gadhafi rebels.

In a press release, President Obama extended congratulations on behalf of the United States to Libyan citizens who could now embark on a “journey of liberation” without dictatorship.

Keelan Murphy, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration said it is the right of oppressed people to seek a fair government.

“An unfair ruler is an unfair ruler,” Murphy said. “No matter what country you are from, no one wants to see innocent people being treated unfairly.”

Although Gadhafi’s long reign of dictatorship has ended, the political and social fate of Libya remains unclear.

“What they have just finished (eliminating Gadhafi) is the easiest part,” Friman said.