It has been so much a fact of life that we tried to tune it out. However, whenever we passed nearby I could never help being nervous that my car would breakdown and I would be shot and I believe most of us even avoided looking its way, or at other cars...
This heavy omnipresence was stifling and only in early November did I actually venture inside the compound. I saw people visiting from literally all over Libya, people who had made the trip especially to shake away those bygone ghosts and see for themselves that the most despised place for them was no longer a threat. I still cannot believe that the place that symbolized more than anything else the Gaddafi regime no longer existed. The walls and every single building in that compound has been destroyed.
I do remember that many of us were talking what should be done with Bab Al Azizia and many spoke online that they wanted a park, but I don't remember any countrywide poll about this!
Somehow, I'm not happy that it has been razed to the ground I think that was just done too soon and without checking with the Libyan people. It is unfair for the rest of Libyans to have prevented them for having access and seeing for themselves the layout of the place.
The sprawling compound is eerie and I expect ghosts to come out anytime it's even dangerous now, all this rubble and the open tunnels. Is it even environmentally safe? is there asbestos exposed? Who took the decision to raze it so unprofessionally and to burn the living quarters there and what about the school ? why destroy the school for God's sake ? children from the neighbouring buildings used to go there and now they have nowhere to go. What a waste of resources!
By all means I want to see a park there, but I also wanted to have some mementos kept to remind us of how dictatorships can happen if we let our vigilance slip. Why have some rebel fighters taken the golden fist statue to Misrata? In my opinion it should have remained here it's not about war trophies it's about history.
It would have been a great theme park but now it is a wasteland, full of rubbish , revolutionary tourist items, looters who have taken the wiring, the stuff in the houses, the things hidden in the underground tunnels and I was actually afraid that there might be some unexploded ordnance somewhere when driving or walking around to explore. It's a place of desolation for me. Not sure how you can have picnic there with all the piled up waste. I'm disappointed. I had imagined foreigners coming from all over the world to see Gaddafi's feared tunnels, people exploring them and seeing in which part of the city they ended up, I imagined photo shoots next to the Fist golden statue, I imagined people taking turns to appear on his balcony and make a speech something like the Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. I wanted the buildings to be professionally removed with some of them converted to museums if possible.....but I did not want this mess. Reconstruction is very difficult while destruction takes so little time. The tunnels would have brought so much income to the park authorities and would have helped towards the cost of the maintenance.
A counter argument could be that destroying the compound prevents any militia from making it a fortress, but I don't believe the person(s) who made this decision thought so analytically.
They say there is no use crying over spilled milk and I agree but I still wanted to voice my opinion and that this way of things suits all those war profiteers which are always present like vultures in every combat in any place in the world. This destruction makes it easier to loot the place unpunished like so much of the public property (and private) during and after this war in Libya. All Libyans had a right to Bab Al Aziziya and someone just took our right away.
Apparently a contest to redesign the place has been launched, nice idea but I still hope to see that Fist back in Tripoli in the park whenever it is finished ! It starts with little things and ends up with people holding a country hostage to have their way in the government and those that don't get their way well the the big fish somehow slip away instead again to show the government who is really boss.