Libyans stage anti-Gadhafi Tokyo protest

by Alex Martin

Members of the Libyan community in Japan and others staged a demonstration Wednesday in Tokyo calling for the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and an end to his regime’s bloody crackdown against protesters seeking an end to his 40-year rule.

More than 70 demonstrators from Libya and other northern African nations, as well as from Japan, gathered in front of the Libyan Embassy in Daikanyama, Shibuya Ward, holding banners and placards and chanting slogans in Arabic, English and Japanese.

“We want the massacre of Libyan civilians to stop immediately,” said Adel Suliman, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

While Suliman, 23, said the Libyan population in Japan perhaps only numbers some 30 to 40 nationwide, the demonstration gathered many sympathizers from other nations, including from neighboring African countries, as well as dozens of Japanese.

“Game Over,” “Over 600 Killed in 5 Days” and “Military Planes Fire at Civilian Protesters in Libya,” read some of the banners, while demonstrators clapped and shouted slogans such as “stop the genocide, Gadhafi step down,” and “Gadhafi criminal, Gadhafi murderer.”

El Badaoui Yassine, a 25-year-old student from Morocco who helped organize the protest, said one of the main purposes of the demonstration was to focus the attention of the global community on the situation in Libya.

“A genocide is taking place in Libya, and we want hasty intervention by Japan and the United Nations,” he said.

Aymen Chaouachi, a 29-year-old Ph.D. student from Tunisia, said he and others have been following events in Libya and are ready to take action.

“Gadhafi’s regime is going crazy. They are hiring African mercenaries to kill their own people,” he said.

Chaouachi said that following Wednesday’s demonstration, a march will take place Saturday in Yoyogi Park, also in Shibuya Ward.

Libya has become the latest country in northern Africa and the Mideast to be hit by unrest, sparked in large part by protests in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled long-ruling dictators.

Reports indicate Libyan forces have cracked down on demonstrators across the country since fighting erupted last week in reaction to decades of repression. Gadhafi has so far remained defiant, vowing not to step down and threatening tougher action against protesters.