“Our people are dying,” said a young woman waving the Libyan flag to a passerby in Harvard Square yesterday. “Save Libya!”
The protester was among one hundred people gathered at Harvard Square yesterday from around 1 to 5 p.m. to demonstrate against Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 40-year regime and his recent use of violence against protesters in Libya.
Over the past week, massive demonstrations have erupted throughout Libya calling for an end to Gaddafi’s 40-year term in office, with multiple reports of violence against the protesters.
On Sunday, Libyan security forces opened fire on a funeral procession in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest-city and currently under the control of the demonstrators.
The Harvard Square protesters said the demonstration developed quickly from conversations the previous day.
“We don’t know exactly how it started,” said B. Bayou, a Northbridge resident from Libya. “A couple of people gathered at the Yusuf Mosque in Brighton [on Sunday] and we decided to protest today. It really grew. Libyans are here from all over.”
The protestors called for the U.S to support Gaddafi’s removal from power.
“Our people are being killed,” said Soad Utones, a Mass. resident from Libya who was at yesterday’s protest. “[Obama] has to do something. He knows people are being killed. We don’t know why he doesn’t act,” she said.
Yesterday, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim O. Dabbashi led a formal repudiation of Gaddafi at the Libyan Mission to the UN headquarters in New York, declaring him a genocidal war criminal responsible for the mass deaths of demonstrators in Libya.
The same day, Gaddafi’s security forces retreated to select buildings in Tripoli and continued to clash with protestors. According to the Human Rights Watch, the death toll in Libya has reached 233, though local media outlets have reported over 200 deaths in Benghazi alone.
Organizing through social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, thousands of protesters have engaged in both violent and non-violent demonstrations across the nation, often clashing with Libyan military and police officers.
Possibly following the example of neighboring Egypt, the Libyan government has severely restricted internet access in the country and limited access into and out of the country.
The Obama administration has issued a statement openly condemning the violence in Libya.
Protesters in Harvard Square said they were hoping for a repeat demonstration later in the week.
“We are Libyans,” Utones said. “We care about our country.”