Libyan students ready to build 'new democracy' after Gaddafi - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Libyan students ready to build 'new democracy' after Gaddafi's death

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Libyan nationals studying at Texas Tech are speaking out about the horrors of living under Moammar Gaddafi's regime.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 interviewed the students in March, but because they feared for the lives of family members still living in Libya, we couldn't show their faces.

Now they're revealing their identities as they feel safe and free for the first time.

"I wanted to cry. I was smiling, laughing, crying - it's all mixed together," Walid Ablil said.

Walid and Zakhiria Belasher didn't get much sleep last night.

"We were awake the whole night, just watching the news, Facebook - any chance that might bring any news," Walid said.

Finally, early Thursday morning, the two heard what they've been waiting for their whole lives - Moammar Gaddafi was dead.

"Freedom, we got our freedom," Walid said.

For the first time, Walid and Belasher say they feel free to speak.

"I can say my name, my family name, I can say what I want," Belasher said.

That wasn't the case when we interviewed the two back in March, or even just 24 hours ago.

Walid told us, "If I just said Zakhiria is against the regime, they are going to capture and arrest his father, his brothers - his family is not going to be safe."

Walid says his father was arrested by the Gaddafi's men just two months ago because they thought Walid was against the regime.

Freedom fighters were able to help liberate the city where Walid's father was being held captive. His father was able to escape, but others weren't as fortunate.

"Most of his friends, they were together in the prison. They burned them and he escaped," Walid said.

Zakhiria says the dictator's death came just in time.

"If they didn't capture Gadhafi and kill him there would be nightmares for all Libyans," Zakhiria said.

They know it will be a long process, but they hope the country's ready for the changes ahead.

"We can switch gear to the new Libya, the free Libya - a new democracy. We can build the country without Gadhafi and his sons,"

Now that Gadhafi is dead, the two are planning their return to Libya. It's been four years for Walid, and one for Zakhiria.

"I go and book the tickets. I want to celebrate this moment. I don't want to lose it because it comes just once in a life," Zakhiria said.

He's planning to visit at the end of the month.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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