A bright voice from Libya’s darkness

A bright voice from Libya’s darkness

What does grief and courage sound like? It sounds a lot like the voice of Perditta Nabbous, the wife of Libyan citizen journalist Mohammed Nabbous, 27, who was shot and killed last Saturday by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi. Mohammed was the charismatic voice and face of Libya al-Hurra, the online TV station he set up in the early days of the uprising. Mo, as his many fans and supporters around the world called him, was attacked while trying to record footage from Benghazi.

"He got so furious because nobody was taking pictures and videos," Perditta told me, after many Western journalists fled Benghazi ahead of a furious assault by Qaddafi’s troops. Mo had been trying to reach the wreckage of a downed Libyan jet — which later turned out to belong to the rebels — when his car came under heavy fire. He died in the hospital several hours later. "He said, ‘I need to get proof of the plane so people will believe this,’" Perditta said.

She is 8 months pregnant. "I want Mohamed’s child to live," she told me.

Her voice growing stronger, she called for the U.S.-led strikes on Qaddafi’s air defenses and troops to continue. Here it is in her own words. I can’t put it any more powerfully than this:

"We started this in a pure way, but he turned it bloody. Thousands of our men, women, and children have died.

We just wanted our freedom, that’s all we wanted, we didn’t want power. Before, we could not do a single thing if it was not the way he wanted it.

All we wanted was freedom. All we wanted was to be free. We have paid with our blood, with our families, with our men, and we’re not going to give up.

We are still going to do that no matter what it takes, but we need help. We want to do this ourselves, but we don’t have the weapons, the technology, the things we need. I don’t want anyone to say that Libya got liberated by anybody else.

If NATO didn’t start moving when they did, I assure you, I assure you, half of Benghazi if not more would have been killed. If they stop helping us, we are going to be all killed because he has no mercy anymore.

On Monday, a relief ship carrying medical supplies docked in Misrata, a town west of Benghazi that has been besieged for weeks by Qaddafi’s tanks, snipers, and RPG-wielding troops. The ship, which included donations from the German aid organization Medeor, was arranged by Nabbous and his friends and supporters, who are vowing to keep the channel alive. Says Perditta, "We have to make what he started go on."