Jorge Sierra: You might remember earlier this year I wrote an article about Alex Owumi, the player stuck in Libya during Civil War. http://cort.as/1GhP I asked Owumi about the death of Qaddafi today: “This is a historic day for the world and mostly for the Libyan people,” he said. “They still have a long way to go to rebuild the country, but this is a great first step. It just shows how when a country comes together they can accomplish great things. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and can now celebrate this myself and thank God that this is all over.”
Playing for a club in Benghazi, the city that became the rebel stronghold against longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Owumi got caught in the middle of fighting between the oppositon and the Gadaffi forces and became a first-hand witness of the brutality of the Civil War, which included shootings at civilians and the burning alive of pro-Gaddafi mercenaries.
Owumi first grew concerned about the situation in February, when small demonstrations started to get bigger and bigger. On February 17, real havoc began. As he was preparing to go to practice, Owumi received instructions from his club not to leave his apartment. Anti-government protesters were marching next to his building and military men were coming at them. “I had access to the roof of my building and there were three or four tanks driving into a crowd of people,” Owumi said. “I went back to my apartment for water and as soon as I went back up, I saw 30 or 40 military men shooting at the crowd of people. There was nobody with megaphones telling people to disperse. I just saw them shooting. Not to the air or the ground. Just shooting at people. Bodies were dropping. It was happening a block away from my street.”
When he returned to the apartment, shocked, Owumi had no access to Internet and the cell phone wasn’t working for international calls. He called the president of his team, Ahmed Elturki, asking for a way out. “He told me, ‘Don’t leave the building, don’t even leave the apartment’. I told him I wanted to go to the airport and leave and he told me the people in Libya had burned the airport down. I was in the middle of everything. I was like stuck in a box. “I went two weeks without phone or Internet to talk to my family.”