2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March

Ahmed went missing in Tripoli near the very beginning of the uprising. His family now believes that he was arrested on February 22 and taken to the notorious Adu Salim prison with many others. At the time they assumed he had been shot dead and disappeared by soldiers, mercenaries or one of Qaddafi's security services, like so many others.

So when a member of one Qaddafi's revolutionary committees told Ahmed's father, "We have your son, he is being held at Abu Salim prison. If your family does not come out to demonstrate on Friday you will never see your son again.", they paid him no never-mind and an extended clan of around 50 adult males and family refused to attend the rally. A few hours after the rally Ahmed's still warm body was dumped outside the family home with two bullets in his head.

Many other families received similar threats. "We did not think it was possible that he (Ahmed) was still alive, we thought the guy was just making threats," said Mohammed, Ahmed's uncle who was interview by AFP.

Mummar Qaddafi held a huge support rally in Tripoli on Friday, July 1. According to his supporters more than one million Libyans rallied in Green Square to be treated to a recorded speech from the great man. Other observers more realistically put the numbers at between 15,000 - 30,000. There are also a lot of questions about how many of that number were rallied to the square.

The Internet was quickly flooded with reports like this one, Muammar Qaddafi Speech to Millions in Tripoli on 1st July 2011, and various versions of the Libya state TV video of the event like the popular HUGE PRO GADDAFI RALLY in Tripoli - Raw Footage. When I say popular, I mean popular in terms of the number of times it has been copied and promoted. Various versions of this 1:47 minute YouTube video seem to have sprung up like mushrooms in the days following the rally. It, in turn is an edit from the Libya State TV coverage of the rally and there are other longer versions to be found on the Internet. They all share a number of features. They are all edits of the Libyan State TV coverage and the video quality, by which I mean resolution, is terrible. I have not found one that isn't fuzzy and lacking in detail.

As with the Pro-Qaddafi rally in Tripoli of June 17 and the Libyan state TV video of that I debunked here, this would appear to be the only video of this event. I have only found one independent video linked here but it doesn't show anything like numbers being claimed by the Qaddafi people. What is again missing from this pro-Qaddafi rally in Tripoli is the proliferation of cell phone videos that usually result from mass rallies in MENA these days.

With regards to the one video that is being offered as proof of this million person rally, in a city of a million and a half, it raises more questions than it answers. While it is very fuzzy, and that makes detailed technical analysis very difficult, and while it is most often labeled "Raw Video," it is anything but. It is captioned and highly produced.

I found the camera sweep used in the beginning of the above "Raw Footage" video very intriguing, so I posted a request to the Doculink documentary flimmaker list for a second opinion:

[DOCULINK] How was this scene shot?

I am looking at some footage of the big rally in Tripoli, July 1st. The camera work in the first 34 sec. of this video looks very interesting but I can't figure out how it was done. Can anybody help me?
Here are some of the responses I got back:
Looks like either a long jib or a crane. Probably the former. It's a bit funny that they're using what's basically music video gear it to cover a protest rally.

Since it's pro-Gaddafi, looks like the government spared no expense and probably used a crane. It's like a well-produced rock concert shot. Maybe some CGI at the end?

Yeah, especially as it goes very wide and overhead... I'd say crane rather than jib... do you think someone is cueing the crowd wave?
So the Libyan government "spared no expense" in producing this video. Somebody is obviously working overtime to make sure it it posted everywhere and Qaddafi's people aren't making sure a clean, convincing, high resolution version is easily available? Curious!

The reference to "some CGI at the end" is a suggestion that some of the large crowd scenes at the end were the result of computer-generated imagery, which is the way we "create" large crowds in the movies these days. I had the same question myself. Many of the scenes have the look and feel of the kind of thing generated for computer games these days and the large crowd scenes definitely have a CGI quality to them but without a clear copy it is hard to draw any conclusions and much is based on what you think you are seeing.

In an earlier diary I had criticized the Libyan State TV video of the June 21 rally for not having any crowd noise mixed in with Qaddafi's recorded speech. This one was an improvement it that regard. Then there is also this odd bit: HUGE PRO GADDAFI RALLY in Tripoli - Why is there the flag of France in the green square in Tripoli? This 11 secs of the Libyan State TV coverage highlights a French flag flying at the pro-Qaddafi rally. That certainly is odd given that France has been first among the NATO counties in fighting Qaddafi.

That is about all I have been able to find out about this one video that seems to be all the Qaddafi supporters have to backup their claim of a million people in the rally in Tripoli on July 1, 2001.

There have been other reports. This is what The Free Generation Movement - حركة جيل الاحرار reported: [Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 12:03pm]
Initially there were numerous reports that there was various video editing involved in order to create the illusion of a larger crowd. Members of the Free Generation Movement were present at the event and can clarify that there was no video editing involved and that the crowd was indeed large.

Similarly, international media was present and felt there was no conflict between their images and that of State TV.

Cameras were placed at an angle that would present the crowd in a favourable light, but no comprehensive editing was involved.

There are verified reports from Free Generation members of multiple buses bringing people in from outside of Tripoli. Whilst this is a verified report, other rumours regarding the source of the crowd cannot be verified by us.

The crowd was estimated to be around 10,000 strong.

Whilst admittedly this was a large, pre-planned, and well orchestrated event, it still represents less than one percent of the Tripoli population, if indeed the participants were from Tripoli.

Similarly, Gaddafi’s continued reluctance to address “his people” in public and resort to audio from hidden locations is further indication that he is feeling the ever increasing pressure upon his already defunct regime.

at Libya Alhurra Updates a Tripoli revolutionary reported [from English transcript]
First of all, first the people that demonstrated are around 30,000. When we got out [at the beginning of the events] our number was far larger, then he was shooting at us. The people that demonstrated for him couldn’t fill the river stadium.
This crowd wasn’t manipulated, this crowd gathered because he bought his mob from all over Libya and put them in one place. It shows that he is a state of desperation. He did this for the foreigners, he knows Libyans will not be fooled. He did this to give the impression that his people love him. If he thinks his people love him, why doesn’t he let us demonstrate and he will see who loves him and who us against him.
I hope our families ignore the divisions that G is trying to create. In his protest, there wasn’t a single sign that mentioned people of Tripoli, the signs all had people from other places like Mashaysha, Warfalla, Tarhouna, etc.
According to one tweet Qaddafi was paying 50LYD ($40) for demonstrators from Tripoli and 150LYD($120) for people who came from out of town.

Other estimates of the rallies size were read on Twitter. @Guma_el_gamaty twitted "just spoke to foreign journalist who saw friday rally in tripoli they estimate max. 15000. digital manipulat. on libyan tv image used by G!" 3 Jul I heard 13400 - 13800 headcount from satellite imagery. (Not sure if that is even possible) 3 Jul

And this is what I have been able to learn so far about the HUGE PRO QADDAFI RALLY in Tripoli on July 1 and the "Raw Footage" that purports to show a million Libyans turning out to show their support for fearless leader.