Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Qawalish Tree Farm Massacre: The Victims

August 24, 2011
last updates September 19

This post in the Qawalish tree farm massacre series will analyze the victims this all about, and the crimes committed against them.

The Number of Dead: 34
First, I needed to settle the number of dead: 34 victims were given by the first postings. My first tentative count, from a low resolution copy, published Aug 9 was "exactly 30. It's not less than that, possibly a bit higher." Rebel support group Shabbab Libya said, the same day, the videos showed "more than thirty people." Until now I've been saying 30-34, but I finally re-did the count using the highest resolution copy, from Facebook (used for all images below). This final take gives me ... exactly 34 victims. Each is shown numbered, from south-to-north (left-to-right from initial camera view, I think), in the images below. That's one step forward.

General victim notes
I wouldn't be 100% sure myself, but those more knowledgeable of Arab dress have all said the victims are 100% male. They're mostly of fighting age, taken broadly (it's desperate times). The age range bottoms out around fifteen, possibly, tops out high - some say 85 (see last section below).

Nearly all of these 34 are in clear civilian clothes, barefooted, blindfolded, laid face down and bound, hands behind their backs. The material they're bound with seems to vary, most being invisible from the distance filmed, possibly wire. But some differ, and some are apparently unbound, as noted below.

Most of them show no obvious sign of the manner of their death. Compared to the gunshot executed victims of the al Baida massacre, there is little blood seen here, and no clearly exploded skulls. Some exceptions are noted, and to be fair, this soil is more absorbent, and the elapsed time since death longer, than the next-morning concrete of that rebel massacre.

Most of these are intact and look like they could just be asleep. But they are dead, and something tells me in most cases, they might've got that way by having their throats slit. Otherwise we have what, suffocation? Broken necks? The relative lack of blood suggests they were killed, by and large, at other locations, and their bodies brought here to be hidden until someone thought of a good way to explain the crime away before some pesky journalist or do-gooder found the mass grave and revealed it their own way.

There's an exceptional amount of trauma to the backs of pants, especially among the black men near the north end (#22, etc). Where behinds and thighs are visible through torn fabric, it suggests to me they were dragged by the wrists, alive or dead, for some distance. The tearing is often asymmetrical, maybe because they were dragged by one arm only for a while.

One victim at least (#1) has his pants tugged down partly, which might be significant. In Islamic culture, pulling down the pants is a way to humiliate the dead. Either side is capable of this, but it should be noted that one of the government soldiers dumped nearby (see the Qawalish water basin massacre), had been so de-pantsed by his killers, who were almost certainly from the rebel side. (another was beheaded). But these pants are not even half down, so that might be a stretch.

Whoever killed them, each of the bodies was once a person with a unique life story cut short. Each is worthy of respect and consideration at least, and for their death to be examined for the lessons that last sentence can give us.

Each Victim Considered
Unless otherwise noted, all victims are barefooted, laid face-down, hand bound behind, laid across the trench roughly east to west (facing away from Mecca) - that is, if the video was filmed in the morning. If it's sunset instead, then they're primarily facing the right way, with victims 1-27 generally in line with each other, and the remainder at various angles. If not specified, ethnicity is presumably Arab, Black, Amazigh, etc., or unsure.

The images below can be popped out in a new window for a larger, more detailed view.

#1 - A light skinned adult male, modern clothes in blue, pants partly down. He's laying face-up, apart from the others at an angle, apparently bound behind, blindfolded (a gray rag covering most of his face), mouth open as if gasping in pain. His top - a baggy, strangely fitted shirt or possibly some non-shirt covering - might be stained with blood, suggesting his throat may have been slit. The dense and dark body hair (abdomen and upper pubic) is clearer here than in the low resolution, where it might have looked like a sign of torture (burning?).

#2 - An old man, bearded, balding, tradional clothes - blue pants, off-white shirt, face-down, bound behind. His face looks very yellow, but this is probably just from being covered in dirt.

#3 - A large man, bearded, light-skinned Arab, traditional dress, dark blue in color, sandals on his feet. He lays face-down, apparently unbound, hands folded in front.

#4 - A boy, possibly 14 or 15 years old. Tradional clothing, barefoot, unbound apparently, face down. Unlike most, he has visible injuries - a sizable hole in the top of his head possibly consistent with a bullt exit wound, or a sharp tool entry wound. He was also possibly shot through the right foot.

#5 - A possible youth, age 17-21, modern clothes. Wearing sandals.

#6 - A possible youth, age 15-17, apparently black, modern dress.

#7 - Another grown man, apparently black, traditional dress, purple in color. He seems to be wearing sandals and thus, aside from race, seem to "fit"with victim #3 in some regards. 

#8 - A light-skinned victim in traditional dress, off-white in color. He's laid at an angle to the rest, lower in the trench. 

#9 - Traditional clothes, white top, light blue pants.  Apparently unbound.

#10 - Little can be told looking from the west. From behind, however, his hands and feet look fairly brown, sports pants with a stripe down the side. Likely a black man.

#11 - Traditional garb, apparently shot in the back of his right thigh at some point.

#12 - at an odd angle along the bottom of the trench. Bound behind, but arms at an awkward angle. Possible bag over head.

#13 - possibly black, by his hands and feet. His jacket is of a roughly military shade. 

#14 - Clearly black, a bit beefy, modern dress - blue pants, bright blue shirt. He lays perpendicular to the rest, laid on his back, knees bent, at the bottom of the trench.

#15 - Apparently black, traditional dress, purple pants and black top, bound with white rope, hairless legs (?), blindfolded with a white cloth.  Laid far up the slope from the rest but in line.

#16 - Possibly black, apparently traditional dress, all bright white. Seems to have a bag or stocking over his head.

#17 - A black man in modern dress - black pants, black sweater. White blindfold.

#18 - Black, modern dress - light striped shirt, black pants with running stripes down the side. He's laid at an angle to the rest, curled on his side, at the bottom of the trench, behind in the air, head in the dirt.

#19 - Possibly black, modern clothes - beige shirt, gray pants, bound with rope. He's apparently got a bag over his head - this is often done with head-shot victims, as with several at al Baida. No blood visible, however.

#20 - Light-skinned Arab man, long-sleeved checkered shirt, dingy gray blindfold. No sign of shooting visible, but his head is at an unnatural angle. Partially disconnected neck perhaps?

#21 - Modern clothes - black, hooded sweatshirt with white lettering, and sports pants.

#22 - A black man, white blindfold, modern clothes, face down but apparently unbound, right arm bent out. This victim seems to have been shot at the site, in the back of the head, staining the soil with his blood and perhaps collapsing his face.

#23 - Apparently Arab/caucasian, modern dress, formal-looking long-sleeved shirt. Also seems to have darkened soil around the face, and a chunk of white (skull?) visible, plus an apparent lack of facial structure leaving his head resting "too low," suggesting he too was shot right there.

#24 - Apparently black, and another head-shot victim, it seems. Light blue shirt, no blindfold.

#25 - Possibly black, dark blue shirt. Apparently wearing shoes or sandals.

#26 - Apparently black. Light blue or gray shirt, black pants, white blindfold.

#27 - A black man, somewhat beefy, modern clothes, blue striped shirt, black pants, badly torn on the right thigh.

#28 - Possibly black, modern clothes - light shirt, light blue pants. He's laid perpendicular to the rest, bound behind, face down.

#29 - Possibly an old man, slender, traditional clothes, a sort of cylindrical hat tipping off. He's laid at an angle, knees bent, on his side, bound in front or possibly unbound.

#30 - Traditional dress, possibly bald, apparently shot in the back of the head in this position - his face situated against 29's behind - judging by the apparent blood splatter there.

#31 - Is that Libyan army green fatigues? It might be a little too light for that. He's not barefoot, wearing either dark socks, or possibly some flimsy boots.

#32 - skinny, light-skinned adult male, entangled with 31.

#33 - Apparently an old man, white hair, white clothes, brilliant white. Blindfolded, bound behind, laid on his side, curled up.

#34 - Adult male, beefy, laid face-down, unbound or bound in the front. Wearing what looks like a green army jacket and blue pants. He's halfway covered with a thin foam mattress.

Extra Thoughts (more coming)
A number of interesting and perhaps helpful clues can be gleaned from the commonalities and differences of the victims. For example, that the (apparent, possible) black men - and there are quite a few - in modern dress are lumped together, the head-shot victims mostly in one spot, the young ones together, an old man near each end, capped by a man set apart at an odd angle, and so on. But a few interest me right off.

Are there soldiers in there? #31 and #34 at the north end, after the negroes, have clothing clues. And in that context, #32 between them has clothing that looks arguably military, of the under-clothes type, and then there's victim #13.

Why is there a mattress? I propose someone slept here at least one night to guard the stash, ready to rise and chase off anyone snapping twigs - or pictures - nearby. It was laid across this man #34 for some unclear reason. The guy at the odd angle on the other end is the one that could use some covering up, but that was rejected by the inhumane organizers of this slaughter and cover-up.

Something tells me this area is not "heavily mined," as Shabbab Libya said of the al-Mal'ab creek area 45 miles to the north.

More victim details alleged
All rebel sources agree these victims were at least primarily from Qala'a or around it, and some specify they were farmers, which matches the traditional clothing (shalwar kameez?) of some of them. Shabbab Libya was able to add this to their August 9 press release, "According to some sources, the men and boys were arrested by Gaddafi Regime troops on June the 2nd 2011." One wonders who their source was.

Algelawy2009, Youtube comment:
It is in Algalah [Qala'a] in the area called” Almlaeb” I am from Algalah and I know this area very well because i recognized the first face of the first body in the queue and it is my uncle and his name Emahmed Soliman and his son next to him and they kidnapped since 4 months ago and other people they recognized the some bodies by their clothes they are clear some of them are children as he say the photographer and all the family of these bodies think they are in the prison of Gadafi
See here for the findings about this forest "in Algalah." But within this tree farm by Algawalish, he says, were the very uncle and cousin of this brilliant internet warrior for freedom. What are the odds, huh? He has them kidnapped back in early April or so. I'm not quite buying it, even with the bad Engrish.

The latter victim, his young "cousin, "is likely the notable boy with the hole in his skull (#4), and his uncle perhaps #1, with his pants down. Or perhaps #2, the old man, who isn't the first seen, or next to the boy, but he is old. And a Youtube posting by Libyanm, which may be the channel of Shabbab Libya, added:
Families of these farmers are still being informed of their death. Investigations into the details of this horrific incident are still underway. It has been confirmed that one of the farmers was 85 years old.
It was probably confirmed by Algelawy2009, giving him power of confirmation of the shockingly young and the shockingly old among these victims, all known as simple peasant folk, but close relatives of a major internet freedom fighter. And who were the families being alerted when the bodies hadn't even been found or identified? Just one self-described member of Emahmed Soliman's clan?

In contrast, there's the information Libya S.O.S. attached to their posting of the video, with a source and credibility that's no more clear to me than the other side's:
Rebels crime in the Western Mountain at Al Qala'a area! They killed all the civilians from Almeshashia tribe who refused to join them!
Nonetheless, whatever this specific explanation is based on, something tells me it's closer to part of the truth than what the original posters claim.
Update Sept.19:

The bodies were buriedafter being filmed and have since been found and exhumed-34 of them, plus three others nearby. 27have been identified (perhaps accurately)as rebel sympathizers taken away by the regime. The rebel story is looking good finally, on paper. These details were toomuch to add here, and instead have their own post now.


  1. This article does not say who committed this crime ?

  2. I believe "Gaddafi loyalists" (as the media would say) are behind this crime. But I still can't understand why they did it ?


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