Journalists kidnapped at anti-French protest in Tripoli LIbya

Protesters in Martyr's Square Libya chanted anti-France slogans and denounced General Khalifa Haftar's Operation Dignity to drive Islamists from Libya. They also denounced the UN-backed government of Faiez Serraj.

The protesters wanted strong reaction against France whose special forces had been supporting Khalifa Haftar in operations against the Defend Benghazi Brigades (DBB). Three French agents were killed and there were retaliatory air raids that killed many DBB troops.
The Interior Ministry had blocked all roads to the Marty's Square and had raised the security alert to its highest level. Protesters nevertheless managed to get into the square. Media outlets were prevented from covering the protests. Alnabaa, and Tanasuh TV were ordered to leave the square and two cameraman from Tanasuh were arrested when they were about to film the protests. Government police seized their cameras only to release them later with warnings not to film the protests. There were protests also in Misrata, Gharyan, and Zawia. A tweet said: " Head of GNA's TSC says situation in #Tripoli says situation in capital under control. Says working to ensure no weapons allowed at protests."
One of those abducted from the protests was Salim Al-Shabel. He is a photographer who works for Libya HD satellite TV channel which supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). As a tweet put it: "Pro-#Libya GNA @LibyasChannel's cameraman Saleem Shibl was abducted Friday by GNA militia Nawasi at an anti-GNA demo ." The Libya Herald reports that he was abducted by the Rada security forces who help protect the GNA. Al-Shabei has not been seen since he was covering the protests on Friday. His brother, Mosaeb, said Al-Shabei was abducted while photographing the protests: “We’re not quite sure about what exactly happened to him but we’ve had some information that he is being held by Rada forces at a prison in Ain Zara for investigations.” He found it difficult to understand why Rada would hold him since he and the channel work with the PC and he is registered with the PC media office. He said Rada must know him since he is present on a daily basis covering PC press conferences. However, it would seem that the PC do not want any coverage of these protests as they may reflect badly on the GNA. Even the UK ambassador Millet tweeted: "Saddened to hear of Salim Al-Shabel's abduction. Freedom of media is fundamental to democracy #الحرية_لسليم_الشبل. "The family has had no notification that he is being held. Another tweet indicates that a number of journalists had been abducted: Militias abducted dozens including Jamal Zubia & news crews at Martyrs Square protest against Sarraj and #France yesterday in Tripoli #Libya.
So far there has been no response from the UN or Serraj the PM of the GNA to these events. While the UN and western supporters of the GNA claim that the UN-backed government represents a road to democracy in Libya, the brazen attempt to stop demonstrations and subsequently harassing media who tried to cover the demonstrations is quite undemocratic and bound to create even more unrest and perhaps increasing violence. While the UN and Serraj may eventually condemn the kidnapping of the photographer, it is unlikely they will condemn the banning of the demonstration, blocking off of roads to the square, and media coverage of the event. The GNA no doubt authorized all these actions.


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