With Gadhafi dead and NATO planning to lift the no-fly zone on Oct. 31, Libyans are finally seeing a glimpse of peace after a months-long conflict. Many people are hoping that the end of the fighting will bring justice to civilians who were unsuspecting victims of the violence — including some who were reportedly killed in NATO airstrikes. NPR tells the story of Mohammed Abueishi, who says at least five civilians — children among them — were killed in their homes during a June 19 bombing:
NATO’s mission in Libya was to protect civilian lives. But now that Gadhafi is gone, evidence is emerging that some bombing raids killed civilians as well as Gadhafi’s fighters.
Residents in the Souq al-Juma neighborhood supported the Libyan revolution and say they have no reason to lie about what happened here.
Souq al-Juma was well known for its opposition to Gadhafi. It was one of the first Tripoli neighborhoods to rise up against him, and the people say they consider the people who died in this NATO strike as martyrs, not victims.
It has been four months since the apartment building was hit by a bomb, and it is still a pile of twisted metal and rubble. The residents say they want an investigation into what happened.
Abueishi says there should be compensation and NATO should take responsibility for the deaths.
Unlike with other targets, NATO has admitted that it mistakenly hit this house.
But it says it has not been given any proof that civilians died in this NATO strike — or in any other — and it says it will not send investigators.
During the conflict, Gadhafi’s supporters would capitalize on such unfortunate accidents to shift public opinion against NATO. But the civilians in this particular incident supported the revolution and generally approved of NATO’s presence. The frequency of civilian casualties in wars does not make the deaths any less tragic. If the coalition fully investigates the incident and compensates the victims’ families as much as possible, it will be a clear step toward the kind of justice Libyans have been denied for years.