Thursday, April 14, 2011

Standing up to be counted

In defiance of a culture where the views of women are rarely taken into consideration, Iman al-obeidi showed her resentment over the treatment at the hands of the Gaddafi regime, thereby sparking a revolution.
TRIPOLI – If at all the ongoing revolutions in the North African hemisphere are to be ancient history then one revolutionalist will not. Iman al-obeidi has become synonymous with the Libyan 2011 upsurge. The Libyan law postgraduate etched her name in the world events on the 26th of March 2011 by storming into a gathering of international press corps at the Rixos Hotel at the heart of the country, Tripoli.
Common to the African culture, a cliché now, a woman should only be seen and not be heard. She defied the odds and publicly denounced her treatment at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s government troops. She had been detained at a checkpoint, held against her will, beaten and gang-raped.  Her rights were violated at the hands of those meant to protect her.

True to the held archaic culture, a scuffle ensued as the government security forces muzzled her now too loud voice against the injustices she experienced.
She was dragged out and barred from speaking to the media corps present. It goes without saying that her life is on the edge as forces responsible to quell the ongoing upheaval are more than determined to maintain an already lost status quo.
It raises the question, who is Iman al-obeidi? A government official commented that she was drunk and mentally ill though he later withdrew the latter charges. Another spokesman as well as a Libyan media station called her a whore. The Washington Post described her as a ‘symbol of defiance against Gaddafi’.
Iman represents the voice that Africa has lacked, the voice against injustices of the government officials towards civilians. She says “there is nothing to be afraid of. We have lost everything. What is left to be afraid of? It is done.”

Iman al-obeidi represents the place of the woman entity in the African society and in the Arab setting.
She however breaks the shackles and gives the women folk their dignity despite the means being ‘stomach- churning’ as described by Amnesty International. Iman goes further to show that the people are the largest resource that a nation has that can either beak the nation or make it.
As an individual as well as widespread awareness of her experiences while in detention shows that a people’s will motivates them to getting the change they need.
The inhumane treatment she experienced and is still experiencing goes to highlight and symbolize the plight of women and children (Iman’s hand and feet untied by a 16 year old who was in detention as well) during an unrest such as the civil war in Libya and in the recent nations such as Egypt.
This also shows that the biggest victims of an unstable state are the women because even after the event is long gone the scar is as painful as it was as well as a constant reminder of the fateful day(s).

Currently, there are world wide petitions to have her released.
From Facebook to Twitter as well as other independent organizations that are demanding her release and justice for the atrocities rendered against her. Iman: a beacon for humanity a hero beyond mortal comprehension.
Ayn Rand said “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking the laws” Freedom is too loud for silence; Iman is a hallmark of this.
An African proverb says ‘you cannot hide that which has horns in a sack’. Further ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth. Iman’s revolution has a ripple effect not just in Tripoli, Libya which she describes as a prison but to the entire world. Her Revolution!

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