Gaddafi: Questions about his killing
Jubilant celebrations were seen all over Libya last night following the killing of Muammar Gaddafi. It must be noted from the outset, that this blog piece does not seek to defend Gaddafi’s regime. It seeks to pose a series of questions that have arisen since hearing the news of his killing, some of which remain unanswered.
The first question surrounds the indecorous pictures and videos of Gaddafi’s corpse on various international news channels including the BBC: something, which profoundly shocked me. The second, although slightly premature to form any solid conclusions, are those surrounding the legality of Gaddafi’s death. However, to discuss this topic so prematurely without all the facts would do it an injustice.
The capture of Gaddafi and his subsequent execution was well recorded by the media and the public. What I found most disconcerting was this manner in which the western media handled the footage it had been provided with. Not only were pictures of Gaddafi repeatedly shown on TV and posted on the websites of all mainstream UK newspapers, but also, THE video of his corpse was disarmingly stuck on the replay button on Sky News, CNN, Al-Jazeera and the BBC (to name a few). Of course, this is nothing new. Although this was seen to a lesser extent during Saddam Hussein’s hanging, it still had the full support of western governments.
Should I have sat back and accepted this acclamation as a part of war: the trophy of victory again? I spoke to numerous people about this. Most of them informed me to do just that. Accept it. Accept that it was a part of war and that is just what happens. But I couldn’t do it. It just didn’t sit right with me. Living in the age in which we do, with all the human rights frolly that our governments are quick to state when western interests are at stake, this at the very least seemed incredibly distasteful. Parading videos, particularly on a national state news channel (BBC News) of a dead man, while his corpse was at the ‘mercy’ of the rebels seemed abhorrent. I suppose I at least expected more humility from the BBC.
Would we have allowed this to happen if it were one of ‘our own’? To, at the very least, symbolically desecrate an individual in such a manner on the one hand, legitimised by our sense of moralistic superiority and orientalist views, prejudicing the ‘other’ whilst ignoring the fact that our governments had at times, solicited support from Gaddafi, makes a mockery of the principles we so highly regard ourselves party to.
Was this all of this morally just? Gaddafi had run a tyrannous system of rule for over 4 decades. Can we therefore be selective in our application of the rule of law? Should Gaddafi have been tried? Well, yes. Radovan Karadzic is being tried. Slobodan Milosevic was tried. Charles Taylor also (currently awaiting judgement). Aren’t the values that we stringently expropriated and impelled into our International criminal justice system,the same values that we seamlessly pride ourselves in and attempt to export worldwide? The same values that we are all hoping forms the bedrock of Libyan democracy? Yet before the cement had even solidified into a strong foundation, it had been fouled from the outset: NATO had provided the rebels with legitimacy for their actions, and even supplied them with weapons. Start as you mean to go on, right…. I hope not.Tagged in: Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, Sirte
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