Most of us can identify with the huge relief and rejoicing of the Libyan people, that the tyrant who has made their lives a misery for so long is finally dead. My hope for them is that they can now move on, take this huge opportunity, and build a successful and peaceful country.
When I was in Romania, we attended a course training us in Romanian culture, run by Romanians. Part of this was to watch a documentary on the revolution of ’89. People who had been bullied, frightened, spied on, imprisoned, tortured and seen loved ones executed for imaginary offences for 50 years, were finally free.
The documentary reached the point where the Ceaucescus had been captured and were going to be executed. Most of us looked away. ‘No’, said the young man leading the session, ‘This is very important. You must watch it. We needed to know that they were truly dead.’
He is a highly intelligent, highly-educated, bright and visionary person whom we really liked. But wasn’t this attitude a bit barbaric, even for people who had suffered so long? Or were we just being wimpish westerners?
I thought of this yesterday when I was watching the frenzy following Gaddafi’s capture and killing, and listening to the contradictory reports of how it happened: the diplomatic one for westerners: and what we all suspect really happened, which is that he was dragged from the culvert and shot.
Those pictures of his corpse may be really important to the people of Libya, as the Ceaucescus’ execution was to the Romanians. It would be hard to believe that the years of suffering had finally come to an end. They need proof.
Now, of course, Amnesty International and other bodies have raised serious questions about the manner of his death. You could say that he was lynched. They are saying that every human being, no matter what they have done, has the right to a fair trial. He should have been captured, and taken to The Hague, like Saddam Hussein.
But I wonder if the Libyans agree.
What do you think?