By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 16 August 2014:
Yesterday’s Martyr Square demonstration in central Tripoli were again, and for the second successive Friday, marred . . .[restrict]by the use of gunfire.
The demonstrations, by both pro and anti House of Representatives (HoR) supporters, from what could be discerned, went off smoothly right up to the end. The anti HoR supporters seemed to be the bigger of the two demonstrations.
There were pro and anti HoR demonstrations yesterday in Benghazi, Misrata, Zawia, Ghirian, Sabha, Beida, Shahat and Sabrata too.
However, as was the case last week at Martyr Square, what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration was marred by gunfire. It is as if the message to demonstrators was to stay away from the high profile and symbolic Martyr square.
As demonstrations were drawing to a close, demonstrators started to pray the sunset Maghreb prayer and partway through, the sound of close gunfire echoing in the square could be heard – forcing prayers to abandon their prayers.
Understandably, the gunfire caused some of the demonstrators to panic and to flee for safety. Others, however, seemed to rush forward ostensibly towards the source of the gunfire. Organizers and demonstration marshals tried to control them and prevent the demonstrators from surging forward.
It is still not clear as to who is responsible for the gunfire, with both camps accusing the other of responsibility. The Sug Il Juma Deterrent Force of Abdelrauf Kara were accused of using the gunfire as a pretext to arresting anti HoR demonstrators.
What was notable again about the demonstrations was the television coverage it did or did not receive. The state-owned and financed, but no longer controlled channels, Al-Wataniya and Al-Rasmiya provided biased coverage of the demonstrations – concentrating almost entirely on the anti HoR demonstrations in Martyr Square and Misrata.
They both shared a ticker saying “no to the HoR’s treason to the blood of the revolutionaries (militias)”. The Al-Rasmiya channel went further and handed over its coverage entirely to another new Islamic station (Al-Tanasih) during the coverage of the anti HoR demonstration.
Both channels covered speeches openly supporting the Libya Dawn military operation, currently terrifying Tripolitanians with round the clock bombardment of residential areas in south and south western Tripoli.
Speeches, including two by dissenting HoR members who are boycotting the HoR meeting in Tobruk, condemned the HoR decision to ask for foreign help against the warring militias. They also condemned the General Hafter-led Operation Dignity (Karama) military operation in eastern Libya.
The speakers also claimed that the HoR members in Tobruk are “kidnapped” and held “hostage” there against their free will.
There were also unconfirmed reports of a small Pro Ansar Sharia demonstration in Benghazi.
Meanwhile, the demonstrations in favour of the HoR in Benghazi, Al-Bayda and Shahat receiving little or none of the expected TV coverage from the two state channels, and the three main privately-owned pro HoR TV channels failed for whatever reason to provide extensive or live coverage. [/restrict]