[RCM.06.09.2008] The Leader’s speech in the grand festive session of the General People’s Committee marking the 39th anniversary of Great al-Fatah Revolution Sunday 31st August night in Benghazi.
The Leader of the Revolution delivered a speech at the opening session of the General People’s Committee marking the 39th anniversary of the Great al-Fatah Revolution in the city of Benghazi, where the cheering activists welcomed him reaffirming their everlasting coalescence with him as the Leader of the Great Revolution and the maker of the Libyan people’s historic victories; the latest of which, Italy’s apology to the Libyan people for the period of Italian colonialism and its recognition of the Libyan people’s right of compensation, which confirmed immortalization of thousands of the Libyan martyrs; among whom, Abduassalam Abuminiar al-Gadhafi, the first martyr of the first battle in 1911, and the last, Omar al-Mokhtar, the last martyr of the last battle in 1931.
“In the name of Allah!
Happy blessed Ramadan and the anniversary of the Revolution!
We try to make our speech in brief and to benefit from this important meeting with the activists of the great Libyan people. It is useful to review some issues that concern us away from composition and rhetorical speeches.
There are two issues I would like to talk about in brief:
The first one is the ”Treaty” which was signed with Italy yesterday and the other issue is ”the distribution of Oil wealth ” and its consequences.
That was long struggle against Italy. Needless to say that Italy made us suffering when it colonized us. Not only Italy, but also all of the colonizing countries! What did France do in Algeria? What did it do in Tunisia? What did it do in Morocco? What did it do in Syria… in Lebanon? What did England do in Egypt… in Yemen… in Sudan? What did Portugal, Spain, Holland and Germany do in other countries?
After the Revolution, we decided not to overlook such things perpetrated against us.
The Italians today said “We are Italy of today and not that of yesterday”. They said “We executed Mussolini who made you suffering and dragged him in streets, and so was Graziani. We executed all of those and won victory over them; and the Italian people got rid of monarchy”.
We found an Italian army of 20 or 30 thousand soldiers in Libya; they occupied agricultural lands, shops, workshops and all economic activities in Libya, especially in Tripoli and neighboring cities. That means their farms extended from Misurata to Tarhuna and Zawia; all agricultural lands were in the hands of Italians when the revolution broke out.
As we expelled the British whose forces were entering Libya as if entering part of Britain… British forces were taking off from Cyprus and Europe and land in Betnan like in Scotland. They were moving around here as if inside Britain.
The same thing was with the Americans who were occupying Libyan land.. Libya was under military occupation when we carried out the Revolution in this same night of 1969.
Of course, the British and the Americans were expelled because they have no properties; they entered the Libyan land and were evicted from it.
But, the Italians have properties… they own agriculture, buildings, streets, workshops and all economic activities. They were disowned of these Libyan properties that they regarded as their own and they also were expelled.
After this file was opened, it cannot be closed unless it is settled.
Expelling them was unquestionable and the Libyan properties that were under their hands were restored from them by the Revolution. Afterwards we found that we have thousands of Libyans arrested by Italy inside Libya and were transferred to Italy… to the Italian Islands, and since then no one asked about them.
I even asked some MP’s who were nationalists… In the previous agent toppled monarch era, there were MP’s whom we consider as patriots like ” Sheikh Subhi”, ”al-Magharbi”, Mustafa Ben Amr and like Ali Mustafa al-Musrati and others .
At that time, we were young and students admiring patriotic Representatives. After the Revolution I asked them, how come you were MP’s and at that time, perhaps there were exiled still alive and their sons alive and you did not open this file with Italy though you were visiting Italy for tourism and you have good relation with Italy that exiled 4000 or 5000 Libyans…
Why you did not ask about those Libyans and their fate, even if they were sheep, we must ask about them. If one transferred say 5000 she-camel or cow, one has to ask about them and say where did you keep this livestock wealth, so how about 5000 human beings?
They said, this is a reality but it did not come up to our minds… It is strange thing, those representatives of the rotten era who were providing meals of rice in order to give them your votes and nominate them as your representatives in elections… but the case of Libyans exiled to Italy, a tragedy like this, they were unable to defend it.
We opened this file, regrettably, it was open after the Revolution at a late time, we asked about this case they said there were no Libyans and we do not know what happened to them.
Of course this file still open and I will mention later what the treaty said about it.
We found antiques had been stolen… and I asked them: Why you, the representatives, the reign and the ones who say Libya became independent on December 24 in 1951 or1952, did not ask for the antiques? Why the Italians did not return them back?
The Italians said no one asked them to return back those antiques.
Your rulers and representatives, to whom you gave your votes and fought for, did not ask for those antiques!! Why they didn’t say: we want to retrieve our antiques, or find us our expelled people.
Later on, the American aggression on Libya took place in 1986, as you know; the American Sixth Fleet took part in the aggression, especially on the city of Benghazi. The jets that bombarded Bnina Airport were of the American Sixth Fleet, which receives commands from Napoli in Italy and directed by a station in Lampedusa Island, 300 km off the Libyan shores.
The aggression came from Italy… We said how come from Italy? Didn’t you say that Italy was a friend of ours? And Italy was no longer the Colonialist one? They said the forces were American and Italy was a NATO member. NATO is led by America and dominated by it. America took part in a war and was assisted by Britain. Jets took off from Britain, America and the Sixth Fleet, which set off from Italy”.
We told them that the file had not been closed; we would never forgive Italy for what it had perpetrated against us… It displaced us; displaced our people to live in the world’s neighboring countries; you destroyed our land and filled it with mines; you erected gibbets, where thousands of martyrs had been hanged; even Omar al-Mukhtar, the hero of the Libyan resistance, was executed by hanging instead of shooting; they considered him as a rebel against the government… which government? They said Italy’s government. Was the Italian government a Libyan one?
After that -as we said- they seized properties and became theirs.
The Italian colonialism was ended just after the Italians had been evicted from Libya after the revolution.
They planted our lands with mines; we paid the price of those mines for tens of years, where people died, animals died and land was destroyed. We asked several foreign companies to work in certain areas, they refused because of mines… costs were high. If you want us to work in those areas, you have to demine them first. The mines made many Libyans to lose arms, legs and many others were injured by those mines.
Afterwards, we got rid of those mines on our own and gave the price of demining.
I told them it will not be possible for me to visit it… I may visit any other country in Europe but not Italy… I will not visit it because there is vengeance between us and it… I told them that I prefer that the enmity continues until generations of Libyans are able to take revenge from Italy. All we had been able to do thus far is evict you… to demand the whereabouts of exiles and the removal of landmines but the issue of refuge we leave it to future generations.
The Italians say”we are neighbours we are facing one another on the Mediterranean… Italy wants to correct its mistakes… we let us be friends… we said we will not accept… this is a revenge that will stand out… We named 7th October the Day of Vengeance and deliberately expelled the Italians on the same day they invaded… that day we still commemorate every year. I personally wrote a story for a film called “injustice” or “Years of suffering” still being made, to show the Italian people the suffering endured by the Libyan people.
They said there was a treaty made in 1956 with the Kingdom of Libya and closed the subject… Shameful thing: They paid about one million dinars or some thing like that. The Italians and the Libyans agents who were ruling in 1956. They ended every thing and they said we forgive you… If only they mentioned the exiled or asked to remove mines since there were mines at that time, but none of that happened.
We have become – in fact – in big problem and discussion with them and we imposed sanctions on Italian companies, we made sanctions – those at the General People’s Committee are the ones who know more about that – while the Italians were worried and asked to lift these sanctions on Italian companies.
Abdu-Rahman… Clarify the sanctions imposed on Italian companies, said the Leader.
Intervention by Abdul Rahman Shalgam, Secretary of GPC for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation:
“The Revolution’s Command Council issued in 1970 a law stating that no Italian company has the right to register or work in Libya or renew its registration or given a license except by a decree by the Cabinet at that time and afterwards this authorization was transferred to General People’s Committee.
In accordance with that, any Italian company – as I said – in order to register or work in Libya must be referred to the Secretary of GPC for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation and the Secretary of GPC for Economy in order to review and study that case by case, then transferred to General People’s Committee to grant license while other companies of any other nationality in the world were to register at GPC for Economy and carry out its works.
The Leader: Those were restrictions on Italian companies. They asked to lift those restrictions; we told them that we could not lift those restrictions before the problem between us is settled.
Actually, if the problem had not been settled, the relations between Italy and Libya would have been turned into hostile relations.
Of course Italy and Libya are in need of each other; at least Italy is need of Libya. As you know, the Libyan gas is exported to Italy and the Libyan oil is exported to Italy and the other European countries through submarine pipes connecting Libya and Italy; Italy has big interests in Libya.
It will go back to boycott, the matter would be disaster for Italy; we have threatened with this; we told them: if this file is not closed, we will bring relations to zero; they say: Why? We are friends of yours; we are with you in all international arenas, in the UN and others; this means Italy has never been against Libya; it feels regret for the past and for what Italian colonialists did.
In the year 1998, in the period of Prodi, we reached a Libyan-Italian Joint Declaration which recognized compensation; we told them to compensate the Libyan people and offer apology, but that was not put into implementation and was subject to procrastination by both sides; it was not serious.
After tens of years elapsed since the declaration, nothing has changed; accordingly, we had to reconsider relation; procrastination is not acceptable; there should be either commitment, recognition of compensation and apology; and hence good relations or the relation must be ended.
All this conflict resulted in the treaty that we signed yesterday – Treaty and not agreement – ”Treaty of Friendship Partnership and Cooperation between Libyan Jamahiriya and the Italian Republic’’.
Of course, this treaty was not read to you in full and it is not published, but you only heard about its content… At the beginning it talks about ”political equality”, in other words every country respects the other one… Italy respects Libya and Libya respects Italy. Each country is free in its policies; in other words no one has the right to intervene, and not to resort to threat or use of force.. In other words, Italy does not use force against Libya and vice- versa and to ensure that force is not to be used between the two countries or colonialism and non- intervention in any form in the internal affairs of the state.
The important thing in this article is respect of the principles of international legitimacy, so Italy will not use or allow the use of its territories in any hostile action against Libya.
This is very important and it has been under long discussion in order to be included in the treaty and they said: ” We, Italy guarantee and pledge not to commit an aggression on Libya ‘‘. We told them this is not enough… They said How come not enough? We told them because in 86 aggressions against Libyan territories had come from Italy. They said it was not Italy, it came from America. We said what the use is that you guarantee that no one will use you against Libya. What we want is that you ensure that neither America nor NATO is to use Italian territories against Libya.
After a long discussion we told them, and then we would not make a treaty or reach any result… Leave revenge to future generations and hostile relation remain better that aborting it.
This was article (4) ”In respect of principles of international legitimacy, Italy will not use or allow the use of its territories in any aggression against Libya and Libya will not use or allow the use of its territories in any hostile action against Italy ”.
This was the important article that Italy does not allow, according to this treaty even others to use its territories against Libya like what happened in the year 86.
Why did we strike the Island of Lampedusa in 86? Because the American Army used it. The American Third Fleet used this island… the radar and direction station.
Additionally, there is another issue; the issue of “Dialogue of cultures and civilizations”… That means don’t impose your moral conducts on us and tell us to act the way you do; in turn we don’t tell you to act the way we do.
Each group of people has its own culture, religion and traditions which must be respected. What we see now is that the west with America at the top is imposing it conducts on the third world. “If they walk body naked in streets, we have to do the same; otherwise they say we are backward or they won’t make deals with us”… they tell us to form parties, or they won’t deal with us; so that they make parties against us; the tell us to carry out elections, or they won’t deal with us… They say they don’t accept those crimes. They are some things in Qu’ran and Islam which they said they don’t accept them; Europe does not recognize these things; you have to change them if you want to be civilized”.
Now, they impose several things on other countries… they want interfere in the Islamic Sharia, Awqaf (endowment) and also the faith, the same way they impose on the gulf states and those regions. They interfere into Qu’ran, faith, Hajj (Pilgrimage) and Zakat (alms).
They said no one can offer zakat to anybody else; this anybody else can be a terrorist and works for Bin Laden… Zakat must be given to the government, if you want to offer Zakat. You know what they did with the spouse of the Saudi ambassador. She offered a person a Zakat of two thousand dollars; they said: How come you gave that person that money. That person could be a Bin Laden’s follower, a terrorist? You had to offer the two thousand dollars to the Saudi government, and then the government can decide to whom it may give.
Then came the closure of the file of the past… in which Italy pledged to compensate… but as I told you yesterday nothing could compensate the blood of our fathers and the Italian occupation of Libya.
This the reality… if someone offered to be a friend of you… if he did this in good faith and you have recovered what he had taken from you then you might say yes we can be friends behave as equals.
The Italian compensation pledge was meant to consolidate the principle that he who colonize must stand to account for his act… this will be a new precedent in international law that will help prevent repeat of colonialism.
Apology and compensation was meant to condemn colonialism… to condemn the occupation of Libya and indeed occupation anywhere and anytime… it is a condemnation of the colonial project as a failure As far as we are concerned we are in no need for money from Italy or elsewhere… we are in a strong position… but we look for a new rule, a new precedent in international law.
In this treaty, Italy pledges – of course when it is approved by Italian Parliament and by Libyan People’s Congresses, it becomes effective- to pay a quarter of a billion Dollars yearly for 20 years to come.
In other words, Italy for 20 years will pay the Libyan people a quarter billion every year, this is a good thing, if a poor country it is very important, but for us we are not interested in the material aspect, but what is important for us is to apply the new rule and that is colonialism must compensate the colonized peoples.
For 20 years, Italy will carry out projects by building hundreds of houses at its expense in the areas destroyed by mines and by granting undergraduate and graduate scholarships for ( 100 ) Libyan students, renewable every time students finish their studies another ( 100 ) students will be sent instead and all these scholarships are funded by Italy.
Then, Libyans that can not be treated at the hospital that Italy Built in Benghazi for transplant and rehabilitation of the disabled as a result of mines and which was funded by Italy and which came as part of the declaration done in 98 that Italy builds a Medical Center in Benghazi for transplanting parts cut by mines – So those who can not be treated at the center in Benghazi are to be transferred to Italy for treatment at Italy’s expense.
Then it will resume paying pensions to worthy Libyans, civilians, military and worthy heirs in conformity with the Italian regulations.
We told them the Libyan who fought alongside the Italians in the Italian military and recruited them by force, making them fight in Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, have the right to retirement, you turned them into Italian soldiers…so how can you abandon them?
How can guarantee the thing we put forth in the treaty, they will resume paying salaries to heirs, because certainly they are not alive.
Then returning the manuscripts and antiquities, which we said they looted from Libya and taken it to Italy, no one talked about it until now, after the revolution we began talking after opening this file, the antiquities taken by the Italians, we asked about them.
In 1999, when D’Alema was Italy’s prime minister, he returned a statue the whole world knew, the ordinary individual wouldn’t its value, but the world, universities and archeologists knew know the goddess of beauty “Venus”, he delivered it to us in a special cargo plane and it put in the museum.
Of course we were supposed to celebrate this, but for the Libyans “well it came and that’s it”.
Now, when our friend Berlusconi came yesterday he brought another very important statue “The Venus of Cyrene”, which they took around 1936 and before that in 1913 they took Venus the goddess of beauty.
Interposition: the Secretary of the GPC for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation.
“They found it in Cyrene in 1913, but they didn’t immediately take it to Italy, because they found it broken, they left for a while…just as you said, it’s regarded the institutions of the art of the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians…and leader, now it’s priceless.