I breathe deep. The knot in my throat feels like I’m trying to swallow a moving train. At the cemetery in Benghazi, five feet before my lens, is the weeping family of Abdul Faraj, killed yesterday by pro-Gaddafi forces while fleeing a nearby city. His three brothers collapse next to the fresh grave of their fallen loved one, crying uncontrollably with a level of raw emotion that I have never before witnessed. “Dear brother, you’re free now.” One cried.
“This is too much,” I think to myself. My heart begins to tell me that this too agonizing to witness, let alone document. A tear smears my viewfinder as I find a way to recompose myself. I know that in this moment, to leave would be an act of selfishness. “I am here for a reason,” I remind myself. “This is important. These people have real stories and they need to be told. They must be told.”
The tale of Abdul and his family is a tale all too common in Libya. According to the Obama administration, the death toll already exceeds 30,000 with tens of thousands more wounded since the conflict’s Febuary inception. In a country of barely 6 million people, nearly everyone is impacted by the war, with most having lost a friend or loved one during the fighting. With dreams of liberation dwindling, the only freedom found for many Libyans is the freedom found in sacrifice—the freedom found in death.
This project, titled “Dear Brother, You’re Free Now,” seeks to educate and inform viewers of the devastating war being waged on both the civilian and military populations of eastern Libya. The current essay will expand in both still and multimedia formats to include (1) the documentation of the current siege on the port city of Misratah, (2) the resumption and progression of daily life in eastern “Free Libya,” and eventually, (3) the awaited overthrow of Gaddafi.