Somebody’s Got to Say It: Where Is the Sanctity of Gaddafi’s Body?


I never met him during his lifetime and although I consider myself neither friend nor foe of the man, I find the manner of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s death quite crude and the subsequent handling of his corpse inexplicably inhumane. While I truly believe that those who live by the gun will ultimately die by gun, I also think it is morally wrong to take delight from the demise of a fellow human being.

Understandably, to an extent, all is fair in love and war. But the one million dollar question is this: did Colonel Gaddafi have to die such a brutal death? Given that the odds were heavily stacked against him in the last couple of months, why didn’t he broker a face-saving retreat deal with the necessary stakeholders and then relinquish power?  Many African and Arab counties would have given him and his family political asylum. The fact that he was also a wealthy man would have facilitated things in this regard. But of course, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dictators, by their very nature tend to work on a flawed sense of perpetual invincibility, forgetting that nothing lasts forever.  We understand from history that more often than not, tyrants lose focus and then gradually become far removed from reality.  Eventually they meet a violent end. Such was the fate of Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Sanni Abacha of Nigeria and Idi Amin of Uganda.

Following the pretty gruesome video clips of Colonel Gaddafi’s last moments aired on the various global news networks, there have been calls for an inquiry into the events leading up to Colonel Gaddafi’s death. While these scenes were quite disturbing,  in the grand scheme of recent events in Libya, it is doubtful whether any meaningful benefit would emerge from such an inquiry.

As a mere mortal myself, my main gripe is with the way Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse has been handled by the Libyan authorities. The  main world religions accept that the physical body of a deceased should be handled with dignity and utmost care. Placing Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse in a commercial freezer, with very little to shield his dignity, and allowing Libyan men to view his body and take pictures on their mobile phones is highly inappropriate and in bad taste.  Evidently, there is  no preservation of the sanctity of Colonel Gaddafi’s body. Surely, this runs afoul of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.

The Libyan authorities should realise that whatever his crimes during his lifetime, Colonel Gaddafi is no more. His account on earth is now closed and he will answer to his creator for his deeds on earth. That the Libyan authorities chose rather to violate the sanctity of the dead, as an act of revenge, is most sad and inexplicably inhumane.  Even if all the reports of Colonel Gaddafi’s alleged crimes against humanity are true, that still doesn’t justify the Libyan authorities inhumane handling of his body.

In the words of Lady Macbeth, what’s done cannot be undone. Colonel Gaddafi’s life has come full circle.  The fine detail of his deeds on earth will now be relegated to the annals of history.  It is ironic that the young army officer, who led a bloodless Libyan revolution 42 years ago, has now died a brutal death in a bloody revolution.  The circumstances surrounding Colonel Gaddafi’s death are somewhat tragic and many will argue that he brought it upon himself.  But that is a discussions for another day. My bone of contention today is the sanctity of  Colonel Gaddafi’s lifeless body.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. – ( Martin Luther King Jnr)


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2 responses to “Somebody’s Got to Say It: Where Is the Sanctity of Gaddafi’s Body?

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