More than 50 people took part in a rally on the steps of the Manitoba legislature, protesting the escalating violence in Libya and shouting slogans like, "Stop killing our people."

Women, men and children waved placards and cried for an end to the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has held power for 42 years.

Majdi Askar, a Libyan-born Winnipeg doctor, spoke to the crowd and elicited cheers as he called for freedom for Libyans.

"Their human rights are not less valuable than those of ours, or anyone else in the world," he said. "We are concerned for our friends and family back at home."

Canadian contacts

Friends and relatives in Canada seeking information on Canadian citizens believed to be affected by the unrest in Libya should contact the Emergency Operations Centre at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada by calling, toll-free, 1-800-387-3124, or sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca.

Canadian citizens in Libya requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Tripoli at 218 (21) 335-1633, or call Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Emergency Operations Centre collect at 613-996-8885. An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca.

Ali said the Canadian government and the international community need to intervene before the situation gets worse.

Anti-government unrest broke out in the country last week with protestors demanding the resignation of Gadhafi.

Hundreds of people have been killed, and there are reports the Libyan government has started bombing and firing on protestors from fighter jets.

"He is killing his people and we will not stand to watch them die," said Askar.

Another Winnipeg doctor, Abdullatif Haresha, worries if other nations don't intervene, the violence won't stop.

"They are just people innocent, peaceful, few millions seeking their freedom and they're killed," he said.

That shouldn't happen under the supervision of nations that claim to uphold human rights, he said.

"There is no human rights, you know what there are? Western, selective people rights."

Defiant Gadhafi calls for death sentence

In a televised speech on Tuesday, a defiant Gadhafi has called on his supporters to "secure Libya's streets" and said anti-government protesters deserve a death sentence.

International leaders and even some Libyan officials have been calling on Gadhafi to rein in his security forces amid reports that warplanes and helicopters have been used to fire on protesters in the capital Tripoli, a claim Gadhafi's son denied.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi was quoted by state TV as denying that the airstrikes targeted Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi. He said the attacks were on ammunition dumps in remote areas away from residential neighbourhoods.

The precise death toll from the unrest is not clear but Human Rights Watch estimated that some 233 people have died since Feb. 17. Opposition groups have said the death toll is much higher.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday publicly denounced the crackdown on protests. And on Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council was scheduled to hold a closed-door meeting to discuss the bloodshed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the violence "unacceptable" and said it must stop immediately.

Ex-Winnipegger safe in Malta

Meanwhile, former Winnipegger Elizabeth Atkinson was flown out of Libya on Monday to safety in Malta.

libya-atkinson_1

Former Winnipegger Elizabeth Atkinson was airlifted out of Libya due to the unrest. ((CBC))

Elizabeth Atkinson lives in Libya and works for oil company, Suncor Energy.

She phoned her parents in Winnipeg on the weekend to say Suncor employees were being moved out of the country because of the situation. On Tuesday, she told CBC News she wasn't afraid during her ordeal, but definitely anxious.

"Nervous would be the right word. We're fine, though. All the non-essential people are out, and we're all fine," she said. "My company has done a very good job."

Atkinson did not want to say much so as not to jeopardize colleagues and other still in Libya.

Another rally is planned in Winnipeg today at 4 pm at the Manitoba Legislature.