Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi vowed Tuesday to “die a martyr” rather than flee his embattled country, as tens of thousands of foreigners rushed across the borders to Tunisia or Egypt or caught emergency flights to Europe.
Col. Gadhafi also called on supporters to take to the streets to fight anti-government protesters claiming control over almost all of the eastern part of Libya with the help of rebellious soldiers, as the Libyan army Tuesday deployed “large numbers” of troops to Sabratah, west of the capital, Tripoli, where demonstrators destroyed most of the offices of the state security services.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney denounced the “appalling violence” in Libya, and Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the army’s vicious assaults Monday on unarmed civilians “cowardly” and “beyond despicable.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who denounced the violence, again expressed her outrage at the Gadhafi regime.
“There is no ambivalence. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the violence must stop and that the government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of all of its citizens and to support the exercise of those rights,” she said.
In New York, a unanimous U.N. Security Council called for an immediate end to the violence and “deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians.”
After the closed-door U.N. session, Libyan Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi made a potentially damning claim under international law, saying army units were indiscriminately attacking unarmed civilians “and the genocide started.” Other Libyan diplomats have also used the word “genocide” since Monday.
Col. Gadhafi continued to lose diplomatic support. The Arab League barred Libya from its meetings, while Libyan ambassadors in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia resigned, joining the ambassador to the Arab League, who quit Monday. On Tuesday evening, Peru became the first nation to cut all diplomatic ties with Libya.
“There’s no other solution,” said Ambassador Ali Aujali, who added that he was staying on to represent the “good side” of the Libyan government. He implored the United States to “raise its voice very strongly.”
“This regime is shaking, and this is the time to get rid of it,” Mr. Aujali said. “Please, please, help the Libyan people.”
“I will not leave Libya. I will die a martyr,” said the mercurial despot, dressed in brown robes and a turban, which he repeatedly readjusted on his head. “I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents.”
Although his army killed hundreds in several days of unrest, Col. Gadhafi said, “I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired. … When I do, everything will burn.”