Pressure on Libyan regime grows

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Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Seems there's another flash point of unrest in North Africa in the Middle East just about every week. Now the action seems to be in Libya. Today there are reports of war planes attacking protesters in Tripoli. This woman, Sara, is a resident of the capital. She's worried that some of her family members may be killed in the protests. She's already lost one relative.

Sara: I have a cousin. He's less than 18 years old. Four bullets. We're getting shot at and we have no protection. We have nothing. What do we have to protect ourselves? Maybe minute somebody's going to come inside our house, knock down the door, and come and shoot us.

Mullins: A man named Mohamed is one of the protesters in Green Square in downtown Tripoli. He says government forces now control the area.

Mohamed: There's snipers of the roof of some buildings. It is a complete just shoot to kill kind of situation at the moment. People are, of course, scared. A lot of people were shot down yesterday.

Mullins: Libya's diplomats at the United Nations have called for international intervention to stop the government's violence against demonstrators. Libya's deputy ambassador to the U.N. is Ibrahim Omar Dabbashi. He says that Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, may not be able to hold on to power much longer.

Ibrahim Dabbashi: I think it is the end of the Colonel Gaddafi. It is a matter of days whether he step down or the Libyan people will get rid of him.

Mullins: We turn now to Mohamed Yehia in London. He is the online editor for BBC's Arabic service. Mohamed, what are you seeing and hearing online from Libya?

Mohamed Yehia: Libya is an information black hole at the moment. You're not getting any way of verifying the news that's being trickled out through social media network and through opposition figures abroad who say they are in contact with people inside. Yesterday, last night, the second son of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, gave a speech. He gave a very strong warning, saying that the army is going to do whatever is necessary to restore calm at any price.

Mullins: The information that you're getting, Mohamed, yourself, I wonder how it's arriving to you online. And also, how people within Libya are getting information because we know that Facebook, Twitter, social media, played a big role in the Egyptian and Tunisian protests. Things are different though in Libya.

Yehia: Well, actually up until Friday we've been getting a lot of comments from people inside Libya and Benghazi and Tripoli. Then apparently, what seems to have happened is that they Libyan authorities have throttled the internet. The service has been intermittent; as well as mobile phone services. People have not been able to access the internet as they did before Friday. Some people are resorting to using dial up connections of servers outside Libya. But obviously that's an expensive thing to do and people are scared of phones being monitored and internet traffic being monitored. We've seen a big decline in the amount of messages that we've been getting from inside Libya.

Mullins: Mohamed, what would you say is the protesters main grievance in Libya?

Yehia: Now the interesting thing is that similar to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, the demonstrations in Libya started with a minor incident which the arrest of human rights lawyer. The first demonstration was just about 200 people or less. Then, even though he was released, the demonstrators increased in number and then the Libyan authorities cracked down on them. There was people who were killed. This in turn increased the anger of the people and it's very similar to what happened in Tunisia and in Egypt and it will snowball.

Mullins: Is it an issue of the economy? Of jobs? Or of human rights in Libya?

Yehia: Gaddafi's Libya has been a country with a very closed political system. There was a very few ways people can express themselves freely. No freedom of press, no freedom of association, and they also had a very high youth unemployment rate. Some people estimate it at about 30%. Now if you look at all of these together and add to the mix the internet generation and the people who have access to the internet and who want to voice their discontent, that's more or less the same ingredients of the recipe that led to what happened in Tunisia and in Egypt.

Mullins: Does the Libyan government pay attention to the calls for peace that are coming from the U.S., the U.N., Russia? Specifically the United States. Does it have any clout remaining with Libya?

Yehia: No, there's been criticism's for the Libyan authorities over the past few days but the escalation and the events that we are seeing today would point to the direction that no, they don't really pay any attention.

Mullins: Mohamed Yehia is the online editor for the BBC's Arabic service, speaking to us from London. Thank you.

Yehia: All right. Thanks very much.