By Aimen Eljali.
20 September 2013:
Gathered yesterday outside the Tripoli courthouse where the trial of Qaddafi ‘s former intelligence chief Abdulla Senussi . . .[restrict]was started, were a large number of protestors demanding that he be executed for his role in the Busleem prison massacre in 1996 in which 1,270 prisoners were killed.
Among them were an elderly couple from the south of Libya, whose sons were victims of the regime. “May Allah strike dead those who killed my five sons!” an old lady, with sorrow and deep sadness drawn all over her face, started saying. She seemed bitter and very sad at their loss. I was very shocked when I heard her speak so I asked her to tell me her story.
In 1990, her five sons were in Tripoli finishing off their education. They were living at what was then the boarding accommodation of Al-Fatah University, now renamed Tripoli University. They had many friends from all over Libya who, like them, were living in halls of residence, close to the university. As a result of freely mixing together, the students exchanged ideas, expressed views, including about the country’s situation, and told of the pressures being experienced by themselves and their colleagues.
Universities, as we all know, are – the world over – places where youth learn new ideas and become passionate about events, as a result of which sometimes there are demonstrations and even uprisings. Qaddafi was well aware of it. There had been anti-regime protests at Tripoli university before and they had been brutally suppressed. Any political activity that was not organised by the regime was dealt with by an iron fist. “The Green Wing” were a group of pro-Qaddafi students who spied on and denounced any students or staff members who dared question the government’s actions or policies. They would also ensure the arrest of anyone who stood for the truth or showed signs of religious enthusiasm.
One day, in 1990, two of her sons were arrested. Later that night the other three brothers were also taken.
The family were informed later that their sons had been arrested because of their involvement in an attempted coup along with several other individuals, all branded as “state traitors”.
The news came like a bolt of lightning to the family. At the time, anyone who did or said anything against the government and Qaddafi in particular was considered an enemy of the people.
The five sons were executed in 1997, but the family was only informed of their deaths in 2002. As soon as the mother heard the news, she suffered a stroke and partially lost her ability to move. She now suffers from arthritis and, with tears in her eyes, said that all her pains, especially the loss of her sons, would end only when she dies.