Monday, February 21, 2011



Resentment over the comfortable life-style of foreigners working in Libyan projects as compared to the poverty of Libyan workers seems to be playing a role in the current turmoil in Libya. This resentment has led to a number of attacks on South Korean and Chinese companies in Libya.

2. Even before the unrest began in Egypt, there were reports of attacks on South korean construction sites. On January 14 and 15, hundreds of Libyans raided four South Korean-run construction sites, destroying heavy equipment and setting vehicles and other facilities on fire. According to the South Korean Foreign Ministry, on February 21, about 500 Libyans stormed and looted a South Korean construction site west of Tripoli, injuring South Korean and Bangladeshi workers.It said about 15 Bangladeshis were hurt along with three South Koreans when the mob invaded the site about 30 kilometres west of Tripoli. Two of the Bangladeshis were seriously injured with stab wounds. After some time, the Libyans left the site, where 1600 Bangladeshis are reportedly working. It is not known whether the attacks on the Bangladeshis were motivated by economic reasons or by anger over reports of the Libyan Army using Pakistani and Bangladeshi mercenaries for crushing the uprising.

3. On February 17/18,about 200 Libyans in the eastern coastal town of Darnah invaded a South Korean-run construction site and set fire to a dormitory for Korean workers. According to the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the offices of some South Korean companies were looted on February 19. The Ministry said there are currently about 1,400 South Koreans in the country.

4. The February 22 issue of the "China Daily" has carried the following report of the Xinhua, the official news agency, datelined February 22, Tripoli:

"Several Chinese companies in Libya have been attacked and looted, but no casualties were reported yet, a Chinese worker here said Monday (February 21).

"A construction site run by Huafeng Construction Co., Ltd. from China's Zhejiang Province was looted by a group of armed gangsters Sunday afternoon in the eastern city of Agedabia, and nearly 1,000 Chinese workers there were forced out of the site and became homeless, said Yuan Canhua, a Chinese living in the suburb of Tripoli, capital city of Libya.

"The Chinese worker said one of the robbed construction workers phoned him after the looting.

"The construction workers then left the city on foot and were trying to walk towards Tripoli hundreds of kilometers away, hoping to catch a plane here to fly back to China, he said.

"Staff at the headquarters of the company in Zhejiang Province in south China said Monday the workers in Libya had been transferred to a safe place.

"Some Chinese workers here said nearly all Chinese companies in the country were "attacked or looted." But Chinese companies were not the sole target of the series of lootings in Libya. Several South Korean-run construction sites were also looted.

"Also on Monday, China's Ministry of Commerce urged Chinese businesses in Libya to pay increased attention to their security and suggested Chinese businessmen planning to visit Libya postpone their plans for the time being."


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


Ashok said...

Bharat should start moving jet fighters into Egypt and run sorties against these Libyan jets that are killing their own people.

IAF should allow Libyan air force pilots who defect into safety.

ambi said...

In 1971 Bangladesh freedom war, Pak Army had unleashed organisations like 'Al-Badr' to quell the rebellion in then 'East Pakistan'. Bangladeshis were so furious with them that were later hunted n lynched. if indeed Pakis or Bangladeshis r involved in this, then i ld like to congratulate them for earning a eternal bloody foe in Libya. Well done boys.

br said...

Shri Raman Sir - Are these protests purely driven by oppositon or is there any "invisible" hand.. the patterns look quite intriguing!!!!

nri2008 said...
They burnt 10 Indians in front of my eyes'
By: Ketan Ranga Date: 2011-02-23 Place: Mumbai

Engineer told his family over the phone that he and his group of 35 Indians are starving and scampering to escape the protestors' wrath

GOVERNMENT assurances of Indians being safe in Libya proved farcical for a family in Punjab when Joginder Singh (name changed), a mechanical engineer who has been living in the strife-torn country for 16 years, called them on Tuesday and said he could die at the hands of the mob at any moment.

Rajni, daughter of Joginder Singh in Libya

Singh told his family that 10 Indians were burnt alive in a bus by anti-government protestors right before his eyes and he and his group of 35 Indians were starving and scampering to save their lives.

Fateful phone call

Singh's daughter, Rajni, recounted the fateful phone call to MiD DAY from the United Kingdom, where she resides.

"I am talking to you for the last time. They want to kill us. They killed ten people from our group when we were fleeing Susa to escape the mob's wrath.

They burnt the bus in front of us. I saw our people being burnt alive. They have been killing people, they will kill us," Singh told his daughter.

"My father has been working in Libya for a company from the UK for so long. We had been fearing for his life after trouble broke out but felt he was safe after the government issued statements saying all Indians were safe in Libya.

But, after the phone call, we know that he and the 35 remaining members of his group want to leave the country but can't," Rajni said.

"While even the British government is trying to help rescue Indians, the Indian government is of very little help in the troubled country," she added.


Rajni's brother, Karan, who lives in Punjab, said, "Phone services in the country are erratic at best. I have been unable to speak to my father since last Monday and other families are facing the same problem.

My father told us that droves of protestors have been barging into residences and looting their belongings.

My father and the other Indians with him are left with no food and have been starving for the past few days. They said a massacre is in progress out there "

On Sunday, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vishnu Prakash had said earlier, "An estimated 18,000 Indians are safe in Libya.

Arabs in Mumbai rallied against the Libyan government in Azad Maidan yesteday. The were protesting against the government for its inability to control the bloodshed and violence that erupted in the country

We are following the situation closely. Disturbances have mainly been reported in north-eastern cities of Benghazi, Derna, Baida and Tubruk.

In view of the prevailing situation in Libya, Indian nationals are advised to avoid non-essential travel there for the time being."

After a meeting of senior officials from the External Affairs Ministry and senior Congress leaders, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao tweeted last night, "Arrangements to evacuate Indian nationals by air and sea have been finalised."

She had earlier tweeted, "Saw on Stratfor that Turkish Air flight to evacuate their citizens from Benghazi was denied permission to land.

Returned to Turkey...Please understand that we have 18,000 Indians there. It is not a question of evacuating a few hundred people...Situation Room numbers: +91-11-23015300, 23012113, 23018179.

The number of Indians in Libya