By Suzanne Presto
Anti-government protests are reported in several cities in Libya, on what demonstrators are calling a Day of Rage.
Emboldened by the protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the region, protesters in Libya are calling for reform in their country.
Plans for Thursday’s demonstrations circulated this week on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
New York-based Human Rights Watch says Libyan security forces arrested at least 14 people ahead of Thursday’s protests. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for the release of all activists who were detained to prevent them from participating in demonstrations.
Thursday’s protests come one day after hundreds of activists clashed with police in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city.
But Libya’s tightly controlled media is focusing on pro-government rallies.
Government supporters turned out in Tripoli and other Libyan cities Thursday, holding aloft pictures of Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1969.
The date of the opposition-called “Day of Rage” protests, February 17, is in itself significant. Five years ago on this date, Libyan security forces cracked down on a peaceful protest in Benghazi, killing at least 10 demonstrators.