Friday, 21 October 2011

Gaddafi – shame on us

I must admit, the appalling images of Gaddafi's capture and death have left me with the same sense of shame and guilt as the revelations about rendition flights for terrorist suspects, or the abuses in Abu Ghraib.

We think of ourselves as an enlightened and humane democracy, but our media give us second by second coverage of a man's capture, mistreatment and apparent summary execution by what is meant, after all, to be a fledgling democracy – and no-one tells our children that summary execution is wrong. In my view, should Gaddafi have personally tortured and killed a thousand innocent people, there is no justification for his summary execution. Two wrongs don't make a right – they just make us as bad as he was. There is no parallel with killing an enemy on the battlefield or sending drones to bomb a target – surely, when we take our enemy alive, he should stay alive pending due process. There was no hint of triumphalism from western leaders, which is excellent as far as it goes, and I'm not saying we should be horrified or even surprised by the actions of Gaddafi's captors, who were all too familiar with his bloody history – but someone, whether the commentators or David Cameron or Barack Obama, should surely have reminded us that they were wrong.

Amnesty International, Gaddafi's widow Safiya and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights have all called for an investigation into the circumstances of Gaddafi's death, and I very much hope that someone listens.
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