On May 8th, 1984, 27 years ago, a Libyan opposition group called the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, attempted to overthrow the violent regime of Muammar Gaddafi and install a democratic government. The opposition group, led by Ahmed Ibrahim Ihwas, bravely attacked Gaddafi’s secure Bab Azizia compound. A reported 80 members of NFSL died in the fighting; Gaddafi escaped alive.
The retaliation of the Gaddafi regime was brutal and swift. Over 2,000 Libyans were arrested and 8 others were hanged publicly. The footage of their hangings was repeatedly aired on Libyan State TV.
Gaddafi’s revenge on the opposition didn’t end on May 8th. His Revolutionary Committee operatives terrorized Libyan citizens for months, shooting guns late in the night and executing more than 120 more people in public squares. People— as many as 5,000— were rounded up in concentration camps in the middle of the desert. Hundreds perished.
Today, 27 years later, Libyans remember the martyrs of the May 8th, 1984 coup attempt. Revolutionaries, freedom fighters, “rebels”— they are only one group of many generations of Libyans who died for the cause of liberty.