Even though he was only 18, youth activist and blogger Tawfik Bensaud was one of Libya’s most prominent voices calling for a civil movement. He said Libya needed a civil uprising, not just a military push, to put an end to the constant violence gripping the country, and said he believed Libya's youth had the power to bring about change.
He was assassinated in Benghazi Friday, the activist organization Libyan Youth Voices reported. Bensaud’s death was just one in a wave of targeted killings in the 24 hours since Friday that has left 10 journalists, activists and law enforcement officials dead. At least three others survived assassination attempts, Libyan officials told the Associated Press.
— Ahmed Sanalla (@ASanalla) September 20, 2014
"A military movement alone can't solve the crisis; there must a civil movement that works parallel to it,” Bensaud told the Huffington Post in a recent interview. “If youth are given a chance, they can find a peaceful solution. My message to Libya's youth is, you are powerful and you can make change. You just need to take the opportunity and act."
Among those assassinated in Beghazi Friday was 17-year-old activist Sami El-Kawafi, the former head of the Libyan air force Mohammed al-Meshiti and prominent Muslim cleric Sheik Nabil al-Sati.
— Tawergha Foundation (@GenocideVictims) September 20, 2014
It is still unknown who carried out the assassinations but it is widely believed to be one of Libya’s warring rebel brigades. Libya has been in an almost constant state on chaos since Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster in 2011 and has neared failed-state status in the recent months. The country is now divided into two political spheres: Libya Dawn, a group of Islamist militias that holds part of the country including Tripoli and Gen. Khalifa Hifter and his group of fighters. Within Libya Dawn are several brigades, many of which battle each other for power as well which just adds to violence. Hifter is aligned with government forces and the group launched on the Islamist fighters in May.
The United Nations published a report earlier this month that stated “with some exceptions, civilians have not been given the chance to evacuate before hostilities commenced ... around their houses and other places of refuge.” The result being “indiscriminate” killing of civilians who are caught in the crossfire of a battle that doesn’t belong to them.
However, this new wave of killings suggests one of the warring sides is explicitely targeting journalists and activists. In its report, the U.N. stated its concern over the “continued harassment of and attacks on journalists by all parties to the conflict, including restrictions of movement, confiscation of equipment, abductions and assassinations.”
News of two other journalists, these ones from Tunisia, who were kidnapped by a rebel group also came on Friday. They appear to be “doing well,” the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The journalists were first kidnapped Sept. 3 and then released Sept. 7. They were reportedly kidnapped again Sept. 8 and were not heard of until the Libyan officials’ statement.
“Many journalists have unfortunately been abducted in Libya since it descended into its current state of all-out security chaos,” the Libya bureau chief for Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Friday. “This is the latest in a grim series of acts of violence against media personnel. Many journalists have had to flee abroad because the threats to their safety are so great.”