By Patrick O’Connor, wsws.org, 21 February 2011The Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi is attempting to violently suppress an uprising centred in the country’s eastern cities and towns. US-based organisation Human Rights Watch has said it has confirmed 173 deaths in the protests, which began last Thursday, but according to some reports more than 500 may have been killed by regime
One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif El Islam Gaddafi, spoke live on state television at around 1 a.m. this morning—he declared “we are not Tunisia and Egypt”, warned of civil war, and menacingly threatened to “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet”.
Most of the killings have been in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, on the north-east coast. Reports are limited due to government censorship and strict restrictions on foreign journalists. Al Jazeera’s broadcasts have been jammed, and the internet has been almost entirely shut down.
The demonstrations in Benghazi against the Gaddafi government appear to have developed into an open insurrection. Many people in the city who have been able to speak with the media have described the situation as resembling a war zone, with guerrilla fighting between government and anti-government forces.