On our way to the airport, we drive into Misrata. On Tripoli Street, we see severe damage in buildings, many of which are all but destroyed. Our driver parks near the War Museum, which we find closed, just like all other museums in Libya are closed because of the precarious war situation. Inside, we know there are pictures of people missing during the Gaddafi era, as well as the chair of the former Libyan leader which he used during his stay in Sirte, and which was also used to take his corpse to Misrata after he was killed in October 2011. His corpse was exposed for four days here, before being buried in the Libyan desert. Resistance against Gaddafi was very strong in Misrata, who had suffered badly from the efforts of Gaddafi troops to quell the 2011 uprising. More than a thousand people were killed and, as we could see, severe damage was done to the city.
Fortunately, there is plenty to explore outside the museum. Above the entrance, we see a large eagle, which once crowned barracks of the Salahaldin brigades in Tripoli. On the windows, a large poster, in which we see images of Gaddafi being crowned, a large red cross over his head, and also stills of the video of his last moments just before being killed in 2011. Even though we do not understand the Arabic text on the poster, we understand this was made by his enemies. In front of the museum, on the sidewalk, we see the famous sculpture of a fist crushing a fighter jet, probably originating in 1986 when the US bombed Tripoli. It stands on a pedestal with the new Libyan flag which was, until the 1969 coup d'état which saw Gaddafi rise to power, the official flag of Libya. It became a symbol of resistance against Gaddafi during the 2011 war, and can be seen painted on walls, as well as flying high above the streets. In fact, further north on Tripoli Street is an immense flag.
Next to the museum, scattered all over the sidewalk, we see a large collection of weaponry used in the 2011 war. We see a pickup truck with guns mounted on top, recalling the images of the rebellion against Gaddafi in 2011. Then, there is plenty of ammunition, there are RPGs, grenades, rockets, and so much more we don't know what we see. A little further on, two tanks. We climb on top for some pictures. How often can you look into a Russian tank? It feels weird to walk around these weapons, these guns, these instruments of war, used against people who rose up against their dictator. It feels sad to realise that, eight years after the uprising, the Libyans are still living in dire conditions, with warring factions and several governments, with a future that can at best be called uncertain. After the kindness and sweetness we have encountered in our days in Libya, making us feel welcome in this troubled land, we can only hope that things will turn for the better sooner rather than later.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Misrata War Museum (Libya). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Misrata War Museum. Read more about this site.