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Posts Tagged ‘Nader Beurewin’

Nader – A Martyr’s Story

In Libya on August 20, 2012 at 15:14

December 2011: I was filming Mohammed Ali Leghuil, a young medical intern from Tripoli, who having witnessed the brutality of Gaddafi’s forces during the fateful assault of February 20, had joined to fight with the Tripoli Brigade.  He told me about a young Canadian-Libyan by the name of Nader.  Nader Benrewin was a well-to-do 26 year old IT consultant living a comfortable life in Canada.  But he couldn’t stand idly by and watch his fellow Libyans being slaughtered by the Gaddafi regime.

“Bashir” training in Benghazi © CNN

“He had it all, he was an amazing guy he threw it all away hoping for a better future for Libya and for the next generation,” said Mohammed Ali.  Nader had been training on the beaches of Benghazi and was actually filmed anonymously by a CNN crew.  Wearing a balaclava and answering to the pseudonym of “Bashir”, Nader was filmed learning to handle weapons and explained his reasons why he left a comfortable life and came all the way from Canada:  “I tried to stay there and live with it, just to send money or collect donations and go and protest and stuff. But I realized that that’s not enough. And I could not sleep; I could not work.”  He told CNN’s Sara Sidner.  Nader told his close family members his plans, but they deliberately did not tell his mother, for fear she would worry.  As Nader’s family all lived in Tripoli, he also had to be careful to conceal his identity for fear Gaddafi’s men would arrest them, like many of those fighting in the Tripoli Brigade.  Mohammed Ali told me that they had fought together all the way from the Nafusa Mountains to Tripoli itself, but during the crucial Battle of Bab Al Aziziyah, he was tragically hit by sniper fire.  “That was a really difficult day for us all; we lost our Commander on that day also.”

Nader Beurewin’s family in Tripoli

I went to visit Nader’s grieving family in Soug al Juma, a suburb famous for its anti-Gaddafi resistance in Tripoli.  I was greeted in the family home by Nejat – Nader’s mother, Eyna his sister and Dr Mabruk his father.   He had only died 4 months before, and so their grief was still horribly fresh.  Again I was offered traditional Libyan sweets, and again Quality St chocolates (what is it about quality street?) and a glass of Pepsi Cola.  Always hospitality in Libya no matter how hard the circumstances.  I felt slightly intrusive filming their still raw grief, but I let Eynas his sister tell me his story.  “Nader was very close to me, he was my brother and he was my friend.  He was everything in my life,” said Eynas Benrewin in between stifling her tears. “He always hated Gaddafi, he always said that.  ‘How come our streets are like this, how come we don’t have any infrastructure?  We can’t say that we are a country. We are still living like a village.  If I have the chance to be against Gaddafi I will.  I will fight against him.’ ”  I looked at Nader’s mother Namet, who was wiping away tears.  I too could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  I knew what it was like to grieve, to lose a loved one, having lost my own husband only two years before.  I tried to reassure them, that I knew how they were feeling; but that in time, they would learn to come to terms with their terrible loss.  Small words of comfort, but it was the best I felt I could do.  At least I could film their story so that others would know of their son and his brave sacrifice.

Nadir’s family told me that they had seen the report on CNN of “Bashir” and instantly knew it was Nader from his voice and mannerisms.   But they didn’t let his mother see it, and when he made furtively coded phone calls to his family in Tripoli, they pretended to her that Nader was on holiday somewhere abroad.  They didn’t want her to worry.  Sadly that day on entering Tripoli, Nader had excitedly called his family to tell them he would be home that night.  But Nader never made it.  Another martyr who died to give Libya a better future.  “We are so proud of him, so proud of what he achieved – freedom for Libya, and I will never forget him, he was so brave,” cried Eyna.  Nader was buried in the local cemetery just a few metres away from the Benrewin household.  “We feel he is still here with us and we can go and visit him whenever we want,” said Dr Mabruk quietly.

A small portion of the Nader’s story can also be viewed on the Guardian online.  Nader’s story – the film is now online here.

The film can be seen on Youtube  here.

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