Start: 7:30 pm
The Arab Spring is one of the most fascinating episodes in recent history. It led to the unthinkable: the downfall of longstanding autocratic regimes in the region, including the end of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya. Lindsey Hilsum, who has reported extensively on crisis and conflict the world over, offers the first on-the-ground account of the revolt, its aftermath; and explores what’s to come in SANDSTORM: Libya in the Time of Revolution. In February 2011, Hilsum was reporting from Libya within a week of the uprising and remained there to see the defeat of Colonel Gadaffi nine months later. She visited the frontline every day, getting shelled and mortared alongside the rebels. In Tripoli, she found herself pinned down under small arms fire as she tried to enter the city with the rebels. The day after Colonel Gadaffi was killed, Hilsum went to see the men who had captured him, and was able to hold the satellite phone on which the dictator made his last defiant broadcasts, the amulet he had with him for luck, and the engraved golden pistol he carried with him to the end. But, as Hilsum explains, maybe the most remarkable experience was listening to what Libyans shared about their lives. They had been silent for forty-two years and now couldn’t stop talking, and Hilsum was amongst the first to hear their stories. SANDSTORM reveals the stories of Libyans returning home from the Unites States and Europe to risk everything by providing secret intelligence, or to commit daring acts of civil disobedience to help topple the regime, even knowing the punishment if caught would be torture and death. We see the dynamics of the insurrection both from inside the regime and through the astonishing stories of the men and women who found themselves starting a revolution. Woven into Hilsum’s account is a revelatory exposé on the dysfunctional Gaddafi family, the scale of whose excesses almost surpasses belief. In a year replete with extraordinary changes, the fall of Gaddafi is among the most fascinating stories of them all. In Lindsey Hilsum, it has found its definitive chronicler. Lindsey Hilsum is Channel 4 News (UK) International Editor. In addition to reporting from Libya, she also reported the "Arab Spring" from Egypt and Bahrain; from Belgrade in 1999 when NATO bombed Serbia, from Baghdad during the 2003 US invasion, and covered the Fallujah assault in November 2004. Her reports from Africa, the Middle East and Russia have earned her several awards. From 2006-8 she was the Channel 4 News China Correspondent, based in Beijing. In 1994, she was the only English-speaking journalist in Rwanda when the genocide started.