Some Lexingtonians with ties to Libya have been working to raise awareness of the bloodshed in their homeland.
Marwa El-Amri, a University of Kentucky pre-med student, has been in Washington, D.C., since late last week. She said she and others, including her sister Muna Amri, have been taking telephone calls from Libyans reporting what is going on there, helping translate the information and then posting it to Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
"It's all been a cry for help," she said of the calls. "They've all been asking for help from outside sources. ... A lot of them are just really afraid, but I don't think they feel like they can back down at this point."
She said the reports she has heard are that "all cell phones are being taken away" and that the government has ordered anyone seen with a recording device be shot.
"You feel so helpless," she said.
El-Amri and her family moved to the United States from Libya when she was 7, and they go back every summer to visit.
She said she has aunts and uncles who live in Tripoli, and "all their lines have been cut," making it impossible for other family members to get in touch with them. She said some other family members had wanted to travel to Tripoli to check on them, but the roads are barricaded.
On Saturday, El-Amri, her sister and their parents, who also live in Lexington, attended a rally with other Libyan Americans in front of the White House in a show of solidarity with demonstrators in Libya.
Abdullah Darrat, who grew up in Lexington, helped organize that event.
His father, Suleiman Darrat, is senior lecturer of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky.
Suleiman Darrat said that although his children were raised in the United States, they have become involved in helping coordinate information for the media about the unrest in Libya.
Darrat fled Libya in 1979 because he was wanted for resisting the regime. He said that for 26 or 27 years, he was unable even to call home because it would have been "very dangerous" for his family.
He has reconnected with some family members during the past few years, and he has been in contact with some family members via the Internet since the protests began.
He said he received word Sunday that his daughter-in-law's nephew had been shot in the neck during a demonstration.
"I don't know if he is alive," Darrat said. "He is only one of hundreds."
Lexington's Libyan community is comprised of about 25 to 30 families, many of whom relocated here as refugees, he said.