By Arab News
Diplomats at Libya’s mission to the United Nations sided on Monday with the revolt against their country’s leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow “the tyrant Muammar Qaddafi.”
In a statement issued as protests erupted across Libya, the mission’s deputy chief and other staff said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded “the removal of the regime immediately” and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.
The statement was followed by resignations by Libyan ambassadors to various countries or calls for Qaddafi to quit.
The Libyan ambassador to the United States also said he could no longer support Qaddafi, the ambassador to India says he has resigned, the ambassador to Bangladesh and quit to protest the killing of family members by government troops, and the embassy in Malaysia said it was siding with those calling on the ruler to quit.
Almost all Libyan diplomats at the United Nations backed deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi’s pleas to Qaddafi to end his 40-year rule and to the international community to intervene.
Diplomats said the UN Security Council at the request of the Libyan deputy ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, would hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. (1400 GMT) to discuss the crisis.
Qaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli. The Libyan mission statement released in New York said hundreds had died in the first five days of the uprising.
Libya’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham was not present at Dabbashi’s press conference. He told the UN correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat, that all diplomats at Libya’s mission supported Dabbashi “excluding me.” Shalgham said he was in touch with the Qaddafi government and was trying “to persuade them to stop these acts.”
Spokesman Dia Al-Hotmani said that at a meeting on Monday at the mission’s New York offices, staff “expressed our sense of concern about the genocide going on in Libya.”
“We are not seeing any reaction from the international community,” he added.
“The tyrant Muammar Qaddafi has asserted clearly, through his sons the level of ignorance he and his children have, and how much he despises Libya and the Libyan people,” the mission’s Arabic language statement said.
It condemned Qaddafi’s use of “African mercenaries” to try to put down the rebellion and said it expected “an unprecedented massacre in Tripoli.”
Dabbashi also said he and the UN diplomats were not resigning because they served the people of Libya and not the regime.
“This is in fact a declaration of war against the Libyan people,” he told reporters, surrounded by a dozen Libyan diplomats. “The regime of Qaddafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people.”
‘Cut the snake’s head’
The statement by the Libyan mission to the United Nations called on “the officers and soldiers of the Libyan army wherever they are and whatever their rank is … to organize themselves and move toward Tripoli and cut the snake’s head.”
It appealed to the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libyan cities to prevent mercenaries and weapons being shipped in.
It also urged guards at Libya’s oil installations to protect them from any sabotage “by the coward tyrant,” and urged countries to prevent Qaddafi from fleeing there and to be on the lookout for any money smuggling.
Asked if the Libyan government had reacted to the statement, Dabbashi told reporters, “I don’t care that much about the reaction of the government, I think practically there is no government.”
“I think it is a one-man show. It is a kind of end of the game, and he (Qaddafi) is trying to kill as much as he can from the Libyan people and try to destroy as much as he can from the Libyan country.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he held an extensive telephone discussion with Qaddafi on Monday.
“I forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators,” Ban told reporters in Los Angeles. He said he stressed to Qaddafi the importance of respecting human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
“I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters. This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately,” he said. Ban was Los in Angeles to attend talks on climate change.
Dabbashi and his colleagues called on The Hague-based International Criminal Court to start an immediate inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity they said Qaddafi and his sons and followers had committed.
They called on employees of Libyan embassies all over the world to “stand with their people,” especially the mission at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, which they said should seek action by the UN Human Rights Council there.
Qaddafi visited the United Nations in September 2009, delivering a rambling address of more than 90 minutes to the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders.
Envoy says fighters bombed civilians
Libya’s ambassador to India, who resigned following the crackdown on protests by the authorities, told Reuters on Tuesday that fighter aircraft had been used to bomb civilians in the capital Tripoli.
“I call on the five permanent members of the (United Nations) Security Council. Now is the time to be fair and honest to protect the Libyan people,” Ali Al-Essawi told Reuters in the Indian capital New Delhi.
Essawi, who said he resigned due to the unprecedented violence against the Libyan people, said he expected more diplomats to step down if the crackdown continued.
“The fall of (Libyan leader Muammar) Qaddafi is the imperative of the people in streets,” he said.
Libya’s ambassador to the United States asked the international community to condemn strongly the regime’s violent crackdown on protesters.
“I think he should step down, of course, after what’s happening in our country now,” Ambassador Ali Adjali said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “There’s no other solution. He should step down and give the chance for the people to make their future.”
Adjali added: “How can I support the government killing our people? … What I have seen in front of my eyes now is not acceptable at all.”
Adjali, who has worked for the Libyan government for 40 years and has been its ambassador to the United States since 2009, said he had lost all patience with the Qaddafi regime. He was not resigning his post, he said, because he is part of the “good side” of the Libyan government and not part of the killing.
“There are many people working very hard to make things work in the right way but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough power that we can change everything going on in Libya,” he said.
Adjali, who said he had not been in contact with the government Monday, urged Libyans to maintain momentum and to continue struggling for their rights. The news media need to be involved in reporting what is taking place to bring “the right picture” to the world, he said.
“The Libyan people, they’re suffering for a long time,” Adjali said, “and maybe this is the chance, with the support of the international community, to make a great change for our people.”
The Libyan Embassy in Malaysia on Tuesday was briefly occupied by around 200 protesters, who smashed a portrait of their ruler and hauled down the country’s flag to replace it with what they said was a pre-Qaddafi flag.
“We can no longer express how angry we are. The Libyan people have already said ‘no’ and they reply with bloodshed,” said Marwa Mastor, one of the protesters in Kuala Lumpur.
The protesters left peacefully after the embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a statement saying it was siding with the Libyan people and called on Qaddafi to quit.
“We strongly condemn the barbaric, criminal massacre and the total elimination of our innocent civilians,” the statement said.