A United Nations commission investigating war crimes and human rights abuses in the Libya war has said that NATO airstrikes on the North African country in 2011 killed scores of civilians.
Press TV has interviewed Lizzie Phelan, a freelance journalist in London, on the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: You have reported the news several times from Libya. With regards to that, we see that the war crimes that were committed by NATO during the Libyan war have been quite ignored and they seem to have been ignored until today. What is preventing a proper investigation and follow up process on what really happened in Libya?
Phelan: NATO went into Libya under a mandate supposedly to protect civilians. But obviously when I was there for quite a long time during the 8- to 9-months NATO bombardment of Libya, everyday civilians were being killed by NATO as the report correctly says.
I visited a school that was bombed, the University in Tripoli, people’s homes, every single day civilians were dying at the hands of NATO and there was only one incident, I believe it was in June, in which I think 15 people in Tripoli were killed by a NATO airstrike that NATO actually admitted responsibility for. The rest of the time, they claimed that civilian targets were legitimate military targets, without producing evidence.
During the whole time, the former Libyan government was calling for independent international observers to come in and to verify what was happening on the ground, but those calls were repeatedly ignored and so as a result, we do not have any independent figures of the death toll at the hands of NATO.
And that was just the casualties directly from NATO. Of course, on the ground and since the so-called report of the government, there have been reports that have come out now from Amnesty and other human rights organizations – but we didn’t need those reports we could see with our own eyes what was happening on our television screens, that there have been thousands of Libyans killed by NATO’s proxies on the ground, the so-called rebels of the NTC, … that have been systematically targeting and killing, imprisoning and torturing many people who supported the former system.
It’s a very … day for this information to come out because there are many people today commemorating that this is actually the date of the establishment of the Jamaharia system inside Libya. So, you know it’s really a very sad time that after many, many years of stability, on this day, the people of Libya are not celebrating that day, that they are actually commemorating the loss of that system that brought them stability.
And the result of the loss of that system has been the deaths of thousands of people as your report has mentioned at the hands of NATO and their allies on the ground, the rebels.
Press TV: With regards to the situation in Syria, interestingly many say that we will see another Libya take place in Syria. Because of the fact that you’ve been on the ground in Libya for such a long time, how do you compare the situations in both countries?
Phelan: I was also in Syria in January for some weeks and there are many similarities between the two situations. Of course the greatest similarity is that the so-called opposition movement or the rebel insurgents on the ground in Syria like in Libya are also supported with arms and logistical and financial support by the NATO and [P]GCC states mostly Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
And we have seen, yesterday, the defeat of the rebels in Homs was declared and we have seen reports that hundreds of fighters from Libya, now that they have succeeded in destroying Libya, have traveled to Syria to do basically the same thing there.
You are absolutely right… if you want to see what will happen in Syria if NATO gets their way with destabilizing the country, you only need to look at the thousands of people, the hundreds of thousands of people that have had to flee Libya, the tens of thousands of people that have been killed, the tens of thousands of people that are in prison and tortured; the complete destruction of the economy and a really complete anarchy. There is no government in Libya and if the trend continues, if the aggression against Syria continues, it will be exactly the same for Syria and it will be a very explosive situation for the region.
Very recently, we’ve had Obama saying that he wasn’t bluffing when he said that he would be prepared to attack Iran. So not only is it in a very short space of time, the destruction of one sovereign state, Libya, the very strong attempt at the destruction of another sovereign state, Syria, but already the time to … on Iran. Of course, that would be disastrous not just for the Iranian people, the Syrian people and Palestine; it will be disastrous for the whole world because the situation will explode. So, these are very dangerous times that we are living through.
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