Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are We Witnessing The Beginning Of  A Series Of Gaddafi Guernicas?

It should be obvious that the Gaddafi rule of Libya is coming to an end but the question remains how many will be slaughtered in the closing days of the mad man’s reign?

(The town the whole of it was a horrible sight, flaming from end to end. The reflection of the flames could be seen in the clouds of smoke above the mountains from 10 miles away. Throughout the night houses were falling until the streets became long heaps of red impenetrable debris. Many of the civilian survivors took the long trek from Guernica to Bilbao in antique solid-wheeled Basque farm carts drawn by oxen. Carts piled high with such household possessions as could be saved from the conflagration clogged the roads all night. Other survivors were evacuated in Government lorries, but many were forced to remain round the burning town lying on mattresses or looking for lost relatives and children, while units of the fire brigades and the Basque motorized police under the personal direction of the Minister of the Interior, Señor Monzon, and his wife continued rescue work till dawn.

In the form of its execution and the scale of the destruction it wrought, no less than in the selection of its objective, the raid on Guernica is unparalleled in military history. Guernica was not a military objective. A factory producing war material lay outside the town and was untouched. So were two barracks some distance from the town. The town lay far behind the lines. The object of the bombardment was seemingly the demoralization of the civil population and the destruction of the cradle of the Basque race. Every fact bears out this appreciation, beginning with the day when the deed was done.

Monday was the customary market day in Guernica for the country round. At 4.30 p.m. when the market was full and peasants were still coming in, the church bell rang the alarm for approaching aeroplanes, and the population sought refuge in cellars and in the dugouts prepared following the bombing of the civilian population of Durango on March 31, which opened General Mola’s offensive in the north. The people are said to have shown a good spirit. A Catholic priest took charge and perfect order was maintained.

Five minutes later a single German bomber appeared, circled over the town at a low altitude, and then dropped six heavy bombs, apparently aiming for the station. The bombs with a shower of grenades fell on a former institute and on houses and streets surrounding it. The aeroplane then went away. In another five minutes came a second bomber, which threw the same number of bombs into the middle of the town. About a quarter of an hour later three Junkers arrived to continue the work of demolition, and thenceforward the bombing grew in intensity and was continuous, ceasing only with the approach of dusk at 7.45. The whole town of 7,000 inhabitants, plus 3,000 refugees, was slowly and systematically pounded to pieces. Over a radius of five miles round a detail of the raiders’ technique was to bomb separate caserios, or farmhouses. In the night these burned like little candles in the hills. All the villages around were bombed with the same intensity as the town itself, and at Mugica, a little group of houses at the head of the Guernica inlet, the population was machine-gunned for 15 minutes.)


With witnesses saying that the  rebel-held city of Zedaya has been torn "down to ashes," the Libyan national council has asked the international community to "protect the Libyan people from any further genocide and crimes against humanity without any direct military intervention on Libyan soil."  

The source in Zawiya also told BBC  that  children as young as five were among the dead.
"I don't know how many are dead — they tore Zawiya down to ashes," the BBC quoted the witness as saying.
Peter Beaumont, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper in the U.K., said in Twitter messages that "all evidence we are hearing sounds like something awful in Zawiya ... My source in Zawiya unreachable since yesterday.  Sounds very  very  grim."
Phone lines and Internet services have been cut.
"Many buildings are completely destroyed, including hospitals, electricity lines and generators," he said. "People cannot run away, it's cordoned off. They cannot flee. All those who can fight are fighting, including teenagers. Children and women are being hidden."
Tanks were firing everywhere, he said.
A witness told BBC News that it seemed like every building there was being hit by a shower of bullets.

As reported in a diary by Conchita, the aim of the use of international force would be to  prevent Gaddafi's aircraft from committing a crime unprecedented in the history of contemporary counter-revolutions, that of making strafing runs against the crowds of civilians demonstrating peacefully in the streets of Tripoli or elsewhere.  
Rejecting calls for international boots on the ground, the Council has called for a short and specific list of airstrikes which would help level the field by destroying key runways and preventing Gaddafi's jets from taking off:
-- the airport of Sirte, 500 kms to the east of the capital,
-- military airport located at Sebah, in the south of the country, near the Chadian border. The latter serves as a beach head for the shuttling of mercenaries.
The witness, speaking by phone on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal, said Gadhafi's tanks and fighting vehicles were roaming the city and firing randomly at homes.
The measured call for help by the rebels and the debate within the international community advances complex ethical questions over the treatment of liberation movements and international interventions in such internal struggles.  The new "referee" role being debated seems to say that a peoples' struggle is their own, but clear and open war crimes will not be tolerated.
From Conchita's action list:

A thank you to Sen. John Kerry,
for pushing for a no-fly zone in Libya
You can also call his office: (202) 224-2742.

Secretary Hillary Clinton 202-647-5291
You will only be able to  leave a message at 202-647-5291, but Monday - Friday you can reach a live human being at the office of the Deputy Secretary of State.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg 202-647-8636

Ask Mr. Steinberg to relay the message to Secretary Clinton.

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA)
Assistant Secretary Jeffrey D. Feltman  202-647-7209

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Philip J. Crowley 202-647-6607  @PJCrowley
PJ Crowley tweets regularly.  You can tweet him to support humanitarian aid and a NFZ in 140 characters or less.

Contact your own congress members:

Market Day in Guernica

My children played a skipping game
On market day in Guernica
On market day before they came
Before they came to Guernica.

I search my soul but cannot start
to find forgiveness in my heart.
My little ones no longer play 
In Guernica on market day.

My father wore his linen suit 
On market day in Guernica
He always sold the finest fruit
Before they came to Guernica

Now there's no way to let him know
How much I loved and miss him so
I watched as he was blown away
In Guernica on market day.

All blown away

My children played a skipping game
On market day in Guernica
On market day before they came
Before they came to Guernica.

I search my soul but cannot start
To find forgiveness in my heart.
My little ones no longer play in Guernica
On market day.


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