By Jeffrey Kofman –
A man enters the camera frame, drops a trash bag on the sidewalk and disappears. Moments later patriotic music begins to blare. It hardly seems like a daring act of defiance, but these images are captured in Tripoli, and the music is Libya’s old national anthem, banned by Muammar Gadhafi since he took power in a coup in 1969.
[note color=”#ececec”]”It’s very dangerous. I probably commit a hangable offense every day,” says a Libyan who calls himself “Niz.” ABC News spoke to Niz by Skype, the only way feels he can evade detection by Gadhafi forces who desperately want to discover his identity. Niz is the one of the leaders of the anti-Gadhafi resistance in Tripoli. He and his “Free Generation Movement” are the young Libyans behind what he calls “peaceful covert acts of defiance.”[/note]
Another video shows someone painting a huge red, green and black flag, the flag of pre-Gadhafi Libya that has now become the flag of the resistance. In grainy darkness, it’s possible to see someone unfurling it from an overpass in the heart of Tripoli. The flags include messages: “We Will Never Forget Our Martyrs,” “Down With Gadafi” or simply, “Free Libya!”
“What it demonstrates is the existence of an anti-regime element in the city,” Niz told ABC News. ” It’s not visible, so we make it visible. By doing something as simple as a flag drop we could get shot in the head. By doing so we boost morale and make everyone aware that there is a resistance.”
Another video shows a resistance member preparing red, green and black paint and then daringly, in the night, rolling the banned colors onto the pavement of one of Tripoli’s main roads.
“When we first set up operations in February, there were active demonstrations, but that was followed by a brutal crackdown,” says Niz. “To give the regime credit, they were very successful in suppressing public dissent. So we took our operation underground.”
Niz was born in Tripoli. He is a doctor in his late 20s who lives and works in London. Three days after the revolution began on Feb. 17, he took a leave from his medical practice and rushed home to take part in the ‘liberation’ of Libya. He thought it would happen much as it did in Tunisia and Egypt: a few days or a few weeks. Three months later, he is still in Tripoli, still fighting.
His family is frightened, but, he insists, they support what he is doing. “We are in a historic time, and all sacrifices must be made,” says Niz. “They think this is essential. We all wish it would have been as simple as simply protesting in Martyrs Square. But it’s not that simple.”
One video shot on May 26 chronicles some key moments in a four-part audio assault in Tripoli’s Fashlum District, an anti-Gadhafi area near Green Square that is under heavy security lockdown. “The significance of putting something in Fashlum was a way to say we salute you for your continued efforts of defiance,” he says.
Niz’s group prepared four self-powered speakers, each with SD cards playing a loop of the banned Libyan national anthem. For good measure, images of the banned flag, a sign reading “This is a gift to the heroes of Fashlum from the Free Generation Movement and the rest of the people of Tripoli” and a cartoon of Gadhafi with a slash through it were also included. The speakers and paraphernalia are concealed in a green trash bag.
Growing Number of Anti-Gadhafi Demonstrations Erupting Throughout Tripoli
The bags were discretely dropped In key locations across Fashlum: security check points or outside a mosque after evening prayers. First, there is one anthem blaring; 10 minutes later, another, then another then a fourth.
“We placed a speaker outside the mosque after sunset prayers, which is a very busy time,” says Niz. “As everyone is coming out we pressed play. The anthem is blasting through the square. Everyone is smiling. People stopped and stared at the speaker. A policeman was standing next to the speaker, and he just walked away. A military man walked away, too. Not long after, a civilian came up to the speaker and kicked it. There was complete silence when that happened. People just watched him, and then walked away.”
The mosque assault was not captured on video, but the drop on Fashlum street was. The footage shows a man placing the speaker on the pavement in the middle of the street near a checkpoint manned by Gadhafi forces. Various people walk past, cars stop to listen. A small group assembles at the end of the street. A few minutes later, a truck appears and a man picks up the bag, picks up the blaring bag, but locals tell him to leave it, and he does. Shortly after that several anxious shopkeepers close their stores, fearing something violent will erupt. Eventually an indignant security man picks up the bag and walks away with it.
Niz has also covertly captured footage of what he says are the growing number of anti-Gadhafi demonstrations erupting throughout Tripoli. On Monday he was in the Souk al Jomaa District for the funeral of two brothers who died in the resistance while attacking Gadhafi security forces. What followed was an angry anti-Gadhafi demonstration that lasted several hours before police broke it up with bullets.
Watch video of the street rally HERE.
Watch video of the funeral and after the funeral HERE.
Watch the security crack down HERE.
Niz says the Gadhafi regime is gradually losing control.
“There is no doubt that there is a progressive, albeit slow, increase in activity, which is leading to ‘zero hour’ [the fall of Gadhafi]. How close are we to zero hour?” asks Niz. “I can’t say. I can tell you that we are moving toward it rather than away from it. There are more and more things happening every day against the regime. But the cloak of fear has to fall. It is falling, but it hasn’t fallen. This is Tripoli, where Gadhafi is. This is the place he will defend to the death.”