A UK housewife living in Tripoli has been risking her life in the campaign to oust Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by taking supplies to rebel fighters and sending out news updates.
Most expatriates fled at the start of the uprising in February, but “Mary” – her true identity cannot be revealed for her own safety – chose to stay in Libya and help the rebels.
The mother of six, from Barnstaple, in England’s southwestern county of Devon, is married to a prominent Libyan businessman, The (London) Sunday Times reported. She joined the early anti-Gaddafi demonstrations in Green Square in Tripoli.
“The security forces fired on the crowd, and a close friend of ours dropped dead in front of my husband,” she said.
Mary became an unidentified reporter for news organisations, documenting the regime’s crackdown against the protesters.
“Because my husband is well known, no one suspected us, Gaddafi’s soldiers would often come to talk to us. ‘The rats are coming at us, even from the drainpipes,’ the security forces would say of the rebels,” she said.
Her kitchen became a workshop for the protesters, who cut out and stitched revolutionary flags and fashioned stickers.
Almost every day she and her husband would travel to Zawiya, 29 kilometers from Tripoli, to supply rebel fighters. “We would take SIM cards, food, phones, even cars,” her husband said.
As the fighting spread across the country, Mary encouraged her husband and sons to join the rebel forces. “I always tell other women you have to be strong and let your men fight,” she said. Her husband and two sons fought in Brega in eastern Libya and Nalut in the west before moving to the besieged city of Misrata, which they reached by fishing boat.
Remaining in Tripoli with her daughters, Mary wore a full burqah to keep hidden from the secret police. “Tripoli is a prison now,” she said. “There are constant arrests and raids by Gaddafi’s regime.”
Her daughter-in-law had a baby in early June but was unable to give birth at her preferred hospital. “It was taken over by security forces, who have turned it into a weapons base to hide from NATO.”
Mary reported growing signs of disaffection with the regime in Tripoli. “When NATO bombs, some people have started to cheer,” she said.
Her parents, who live in Devon, have been begging her to return.
Source: Herald Sun