Libya is teetering on the brink of genocide.
Muammar Gaddafi and loyalists of his regime are poised to strike, to annihilate the people of Libya who have risen against them. To justify their stance, they treat their people’s uprising as manipulation by Al Qaeda.
Gaddafi has proclaimed that he holds no position of authority in Libya which he says operates on the commune system. It is according to him a true democracy.
But in a democracy, people communicate. There has been no attempt to communicate. There have been long justifications of his rule, condemnations of Al Qaeda and references to his courage as a freedom fighter.
At the same time, there have been attacks on protestors many of whom have been killed.
Now the situation is deadlocked. And the threat of mass annihilation is very real.
The International Community recognises the danger but is compromised by its previous complicity with the Gaddafi Regime.
The International Community is also aware that any action, apart from the warnings that they have issued, could precipitate the very situation that it is being asked to prevent.
The people of Libya live in anticipation of a holocaust and cry out for help. They are a brave people, standing up for freedom.
It is a desperate situation.
Those who say give Gaddafi an honourable means to leave Libya, understand how dangerous the situation is and want to avoid mass killing at any cost.
Others say that such a concession would be condonation of misrule and corruption and such crimes must not go unpunished, as that would create a precedent.
(And Africa is at the moment dealing with other similar situations – among them Cote d’Ivoire where Gbagbo is clinging to power in autocratic defiance and, of course, Zimbabwe.)
So the people of Libya are caught between principled action and massacre.
Freedom Fighters have a tendency to justify their right to rule because of their contributions to the struggle for liberation. But does that make them democratic leaders. Establishing democracy is not the same as engaging in revolutionary struggles; revolutionary struggles are military operations that follow an autocratic chain of command. And liberation theories and ideologies are not education for establishing democracy; they are motivations for revolutionary struggles.
Democracy is developed through practice. It is not confined to voting in elections. It is a process that develops a mindset of respect for individual rights in the daily interaction between individuals and between individuals and government.
In South Africa, despite the example of Nelson Mandela, we have not yet attained democracy.
The regimes of the Arab World are trembling as people engage in revolutionary struggles. The media calls these pro-democratic movements. Let us hope that they do lead to forms of democracy and that the present leaders of these revolutionary movements do not become glorified struggle veterans like the Gaddafis, Mubaraks, Gabagbos, Mugabes, etc. who in overcoming tyranny become tyrants themselves.