As Libya plunges into violence, Senator John Kerry condemned attacks unleashed by Colonel Moammar Khadafy’s government as “beyond despicable,” and called for international condemnation of the regime.
“I hope we are witnessing its last hours in power. Libyans should have the opportunity to choose leaders who respect their basic rights,” Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today in a statement.
Libya has become the latest flashpoint in a wave of democratic protests sweeping Middle Eastern and northern African countries. But unlike most other nations, the Libyan government has unleashed a ferocious violence assault on protesters, including firing upon crowds from helicopters and warplanes. Hundreds are believed to be dead.
The Massachusetts Democrat said world leaders must put Khadafy on notice “that his cowardly actions will have consequences.” While Khadafy himself is “irredeemable,” Kerry said, he warned that military commanders complicit in atrocities could face future international war crimes charges.
Oil companies – both American and foreign – should withdraw until violence ends, he said, and the U.S should also impose new sanctions. Kerry also said Libya should be dropped from the Human Rights Commission, a United Nations body widely seen as a fig-leaf for human rights abusers, and called for action from the Arab League and the African Union, both of which count Libya as a member. The Arab League was having an emergency meeting today to discuss Libya.
“Today, the world is watching how the region’s leaders will respond to Libya. The Arab League can demonstrate that after the popular uprisings across the region, the old rules of impunity no longer stand. And the African Union can vigorously investigate reports that African mercenaries are involved in the atrocities in Libya,” Kerry said.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.