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Libyans Organize Citizen Councils to Run Cities Liberated from Pro-Gaddafi Loyalists

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In the liberated city of Benghazi, where pro-Gaddafi forces have been ousted, Libyan people are now organizing a self-government structure to manage the city. One group calling itself the Coalition of the February 17 Revolution—which is made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, workers, students—just established a city council to manage the day-to-day activities of the city. Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat speaks with two female Libyan attorneys who are very involved in the coalition. [includes rush transcript]

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StoryDec 01, 2011Democracy Now! Correspondent Anjali Kamat on Reporting the Revolutions in Egypt and Libya
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Anjali, if you could introduce the two women lawyers that you spoke to…

ANJALI KAMAT: Yes, absolutely. So I spoke to two women lawyers who were — really seem to be running a lot of things on the Council of the Revolution. One of them is a member of the Council of the Revolution, Salwa Bugaighis. She’s the first woman who you’ll see. And the second woman is Hanaa Al-Gallal, also a lawyer. She’s a member of the media committee. And I asked them a number of questions, and this clip begins when I asked them if they expected this to take place in Libya, and in particular to begin in their home town of Benghazi.

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: They can’t believe themselves. No, for two, three days, they can’t believe themselves, that Gaddafi not here anymore.

HANAA AL-GALLAL: We can talk. We can do —

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: We can talk. We can feel —

HANAA AL-GALLAL: — freedom of expression.

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: Yeah, yes. It’s horrible things. You can’t believe it, you know? Forty-two years, everything belongs to Gaddafi and his sons.


SALWA BUGAIGHIS: And his sons.


SALWA BUGAIGHIS: You know, all the —

HANAA AL-GALLAL: He said it in his speech.


HANAA AL-GALLAL: “I am Libya.” There is no Libya without him. We are not numb. And look what he called us. He called us “cockroaches.” That’s how he saw us for 42 years, and that’s the way he treated us for 42 years. And we are happy, celebrating, but at the same time we are praying for Tripoli and for the —

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: Yeah, because the Tripoli is our country, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

HANAA AL-GALLAL: We are calling for the unity of Libya. The capital city is Tripoli.

ANJALI KAMAT: How is the coalition, the Itilaf, supporting Tripoli? What are you doing to support people in Tripoli and Zawiyah?

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: Now there’s a meeting outside the court here with the people from coalition from Tobruk, Bayda and Darnah, OK? And now they are — they are having meeting now, and they are discussing these things. And we will see what will happen, what they will decide about that.

HANAA AL-GALLAL: We cannot talk too much into the future. We are just living it minute by minute. And this is overwhelming, even to the people of the international media and international community. This is something never happened in history. And we are doing — and we are surprised ourselves, and we are proud, because in Benghazi there’s no looting, there is no chaos. Everything is — every person in this country and this city has been participating in protecting private and public property. Everybody is opening his home for the expatriates. We are doing everything. There might be minor mistakes, but this is normal. We are in emergency, but we are doing great.

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: And I want to say something else, that everybody from outside, they are asking us, “What you want to do? What you want?” Please, be patient. Please. You know, there’s a lot of stress on us, OK, because we are — we didn’t plan it in Egypt, when they say that they prepared since 1995 — 2005, for five years. We didn’t do nothing, OK? This comes [snaps] like this.

HANAA AL-GALLAL: It’s the will of God.


ANJALI KAMAT: In this situation, what is it you’d like from the international community? Is there something that you’d like to see? What kind of tangible support would you like from the government and from the people?

SALWA BUGAIGHIS: We need their support, and we thank all the media who comes here so they can see by their own eyes that we didn’t lie.

HANAA AL-GALLAL: We have very urgent demands, and that’s what we want from the international world, is a non-flight zone over Libya, because this is the only way they can help us. If the Security Council and the United Nations, they have that, they are helping us a lot, because this is the only way we can help liberating Tripoli. Then everybody can come and help and comes out.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Hanaa Al-Gallal and Salwa Bugaighis, lawyers in Benghazi, members of the Coalition for the Revolution, interviewed by Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat.

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