Opinion: Gaddafi’s Death – a conflict of emotion

As is customary in my family, any major news event (especially one in the Arab world) is first alerted to us by a text or call from my mother. While neither of my parents are party political, politics has permeated every hour of our family life for a long as I can remember. These days, usually as a result of either BBC World News or Al-Jazeera being the TV channel of choice at all times.

My father is currently operative as the EU head of ‘mission’ (in as much as one can exist) in Libya and so we have been watching any news in this area extremely carefully as we know it affects him directly. But the fact that this assignment has no end date has concerned us greatly as we know full well that it rested on whether or not Gaddafi could be completely ‘neutralized’. So perhaps you can forgive me when, upon hearing of Gaddafi’s death, my first emotion was that of relief. On a personal level the fact that Libya would likely become a safer place from now on meant my heart need no longer leap into my mouth every time my mother calls, morbidly wondering if she bears bad news.

However, a subsequent phonecall from my father then revealed that many Libyans feel the same thing. While there were calls from the beginning that they wished to try him and face proper justice, it was becoming apparent that even in hiding he was extremely powerful. As people lost family members in the fight to secure the country, the spectre of Gaddafi and his sons lurked over their shoulders, halting progress towards moving on with the building of infrastructure and the democracy that the people so desperately crave. The longer he was there, the more people would die as his supporters continue to fight in his name to protect his legacy.

Further to that, the National Transitional Council (NTC) was in no position to set up a properly accountable justice system, while trying him in the International Criminal Court was also problematic as it is such a drawn out process. Should he have been captured and tried, it would have been potentially years before peace could be achieved. While there are many who still would have wanted to see him having to account for his atrocities, in the end it may simply be ‘easier’ this way.

Now the question is, is ‘easier’ right? In my opinion the answer to this is never yes. Not for the sake of it. I am of the opinion that if a man commits a crime, he should be made to stand up in front of a panel of judges and have to suffer the process of dissecting his actions one by one and be sentenced accordingly. This is an important part of the healing process for victims and, just like with Bin-Laden, we must acknowledge that this has been taken away from them. However, the silver lining to this sad tale is that perhaps, while from our western-liberal perspective, the most just outcome has not transpired, from the perspective of a Libyan people who has suffered 40 years of this man’s tyranny; his death means they can finally move on, perhaps even with fewer of their sons and fathers being killed than if he was captured.

The fact that there is already talk of elections in Libya in 2013 is extremely encouraging and I look forward to seeing the progress that will now spur forward as a result of this event. I sincerely hope British businesses take up the call to invest, and with vast oil reserves available and all that comes from that, I am sure we don’t have to ask twice.

So while the demise of this flamboyant dictator will now raise questions of human rights abuses as a result of the voyeuristic (and in my view unnecessarily graphic) scenes depicted across our national newspapers. I worry people will feel sorry for this man. We must never forget that under his rule, thousands of innocents were killed and many other intimidated and tortured. In the eyes of some his precipitated death is may not be the ideal scenario. But perhaps for some who are more affected than us, it could still be considered a good thing.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.


  • Thanks Layla.
    I believe you express the conflicted feeling of most liberals.
    And it is a similar one to most people attitude to the death penalty in general. Whilst we disagree with the principle, there’s no doubt that our natural instinct for revenge (from the millennia when justice was only possible that way), particularly for the families of the victims, finds it difficult.
    Though unlike regular death penalty cases, this one might actually have saved lives (not directly at his hands but at those of his supporters). Not a reason to condone but then we’re not Lybians.

  • Im sure you as an American would consider this as a good thing too.

    Libya has fared far better than Nigeria in all positive aspects of life. With her per capita income standing at $14,884 compared to $2,500 for Nigeria, the Libyans have enjoyed far more superior life than our compatriots. Under Gaddafi, Libya’s per capita income was the highest in Africa. While Nigeria’s rate of inflation stands at 12.8 percent,

    Libya’s was a mere 1 percent. Gaddafi left behind a whopping $168 billion in external reserves. While a vast majority of our youths are roaming about jobless, Gaddafi ensured that all Libyans are well catered for. The rate of unemployment could have been zero, if a few Libyans had not chosen to remain unemployed, relying on the nation’s effective social security system including Free electric, water, telephone bills, education, hospitalisation etc . Gaddafi transformed the Libyan society in all its ramifications – economically, socially – some would even add, religiously.

    FRED OPOLO: “Gadhafi will be remembered in Uganda as a Pan-Africanist who contributed a lot to the workings of the African Union. Also in individual countries he contributed a lot in foreign direct investment and let’s not forget, he was a key proponent for African unity, so in that context, Gadhafi will be missed.”

    Care to find out in what state the African minorites are left in now, today?

    Gaddafi’s supporters laid down their lives to protect the last major bastion of his support should indicate that he is still being supported by many Libyans. Would these symphatisers allow peace to reign? Would Libya eventually turn to another Iraq or Afghanistan? Only time would tell. I wouldnt get my hopes up on declaring it being a safer place, thats for sure. This is only the beginning

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • George Thomas
    "The blame lies squarely with the Conservative Government whose botched budget last year sent mortgage rates spiralling." Economy has been made weaker over m...
  • Peter Martin
    The description for this debate sums up both sides of the argument very well. Either we are of the opinion that " To be anti-Zionist isn’t to be anti-Semitic ...
  • Michael BG
    Jenny Barnes, If there is spare capacity in the economy then giving people more spending power should lead to economic growth rather than inflation. However,...
  • Katharine Pindar
    I am glad that Ed Davey is saying that energy bills for householders must not rise again in April. But he and our other Parliamentarians and spokespeople will h...
  • Andrew Melmoth
    The thesis that anti-semitism is taken less seriously than other forms of racism isn't best made by someone who has suffered no ill consequences in their career...