Women’s rights activist murdered, then witness murdered in brave new Libya


Salwa Bugaighis, AFP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Witness of murder of activist in Libya is dead

Saturday 28 May 2014, 15:04 (Update: 28-06-14, 15:29)

The only witness to the murder of the Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bughaighis was also murdered probably. His body, covered with torture marks, was left by unknown people at a hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, local media say.

The witness was the bodyguard of Bughaighis. He saw how she was killed, Wednesday night at her home in Benghazi with a shot through the head. Her husband has since been missing. The guard was shot in the leg. After the murder, he was taken away by police for questioning.

The situation in Benghazi is very tense. Radical Islamist militias are fighting a power struggle with a [retired] general of the Libyan army.

Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

Libya remains in the grip of rivalrous rebel factions. Three years after ousting dictator Moammar Kadafi, the militias have turned to smuggling and extortion, and left Libya without a real government: here.

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Libya, violence and disease


This video is called Libya: fatal Benghazi clashes between protesters and militia.

The latest violence erupted in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday in Benghazi’s al-Lithi district, not far from the city centre. Libyan Special Forces fought it out with rogue gunmen, leaving at least six soldiers dead and several injured: here.

From IRIN News:

Libya’s “Growing” Drugs/HIV Problem

17 June 2013

Tripoli — Doctors in Libya say they are seeing a “growing” number of patients with drug problems and a corresponding risk of HIV infection, in a post-Gaddafi era marked by limited law enforcement and government capacity.

“Every month more people come to us needing help,” said Abdullah Fannir, deputy director of Gargaresh psychiatric hospital in Tripoli.

“It’s part of the fallout from the revolution. Border control is weak, making it easy for drug-traffickers, and there’s more demand as well. Hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, wounded or bereaved during the uprising.”

Doctors at Benghazi’s Al Irada drug addiction clinic, the only treatment centre of its kind in the country, say some of the most common addictions they have to treat are for Tramadol, a painkiller that stimulates the release of serotonin and can cause seizures, and heroin.

With heroin has come HIV/AIDS. A report by the Liverpool School of Popular Medicine published in April based on data collected in Tripoli before the uprising concluded that 87 percent of the city’s injecting drug users have HIV. That is the highest rate recorded anywhere in the world and compares to 2.6 percent in Tunis and 7.7 percent in Cairo.

Joseph Valadez was study director on the project and says the epidemic among the drug-using community must be tackled now to stave off a wider health crisis.

“Our results show quite clearly that there is a concentrated epidemic among Libya’s injecting drug users. They also show progress towards a concentrated epidemic among men who have sex with men and, although we weren’t able to do an in-depth survey, our results also point to high levels of HIV infection among sex workers. When you take all this together it is very worrying…

“Often the men who have sex with men are also married, as are those who use prostitutes and drugs. These groups are vehicles for the general population to be infected and Libya needs to address this issue now or it will face a huge problem in the future.”

Health services are limited. At the Al Irada clinic Libyans with addiction problems are helped to kick their habit with the help of psychologists and tailor-made drug courses. But this clinic has room for just 40 patients.

“It provides a good service but it’s far too small to serve the whole country,” said Alia Shaiboub, the National AIDS Programme’s (NAP) head of HIV awareness. “We deal with a lot of addicts who need this kind of treatment but it’s very hard to get them a place. At the moment there’s no way we can get treatment for them all.”

Data paucity

A lack of data is causing huge problems for those trying to fight Libya’s drug problem.

Reliable HIV data is hard to come by. According to official figures, around 12,000 people have been recorded as living with HIV, but Laila Aghil, head of Strategic Planning at NAP, says this number is a gross underestimate.

“Many people who have HIV don’t seek medical treatment and don’t ever come into contact with officials or doctors. This means official figures are just the tip of a very large iceberg.”

Part of the reason for the lack of data is lack of funds. Valadez says more money needs to be channelled into Libya’s addiction and HIV programmes.

“Both the Libyan government and international donors should provide much more money for harm reduction programmes and education as well as research. We need to look at the impact of the war and the overall prevalence of HIV in the country.”

“During the revolution it’s likely that HIV infection spread. People scatter when the war comes, and they scatter their infections as well. During war very often there is an increase in prostitution and sex work. There’s also sexual violence against women and young people and it is normal to see an increase in uncontrolled sexually transmitted diseases.”

Confronting the problem

Responding to the report by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Libyan government said it would treat the HIV epidemic among drug users as a matter of national priority. But, according to Fannir, so far nothing has been done.

“There is still no needle exchange programme and our doctors don’t have the right experience or the right drugs. In fact, not a single one of the report’s recommendations has been implemented. I believe because of this inaction the rate of HIV infection is rising among injecting drug users, even as the number of drug users increases.”

According to Fannir the worsening crisis has severe implications for the wider community.

“It is getting to the point that it threatens national stability. Drug dealing is fuelling militia violence. All this is undermining faith in Libya’s politicians and the effect of this should not be underestimated.”

Mustafa Gebreil is an independent member of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) and member of the GNC Health Committee. He rejects the idea that battling addiction should be an immediate focus for the government.

“The Health Ministry is concentrating on crisis fighting. There are many issues that need attention in Libya, and because of this treating drug addicts is not a priority.”

The social stigma that surrounds HIV and drug taking is a big part of the problem, according to Alessandra Martino, an HIV specialist who has worked in Libya since 2005.

“HIV is very closely associated with vices like casual sex, homosexuality and drug taking: things that are unacceptable in mainstream Libyan culture. This means for Libyans HIV and drug abuse are not very fashionable areas to be campaigning about or working in.”

Revolution and rehabilitation

Accounts from drug users and outreach workers back up the reports by doctors that Libya’s drug problems are worsening. Salah is a recovering heroin addict at Benghazi’s Al Irada clinic and says heroin became increasingly easy to get hold of after the uprising.

“It was everywhere after the revolution. I originally gave up heroin in 2008 but I started to take it again after the liberation. I fought on the front lines and like other fighters I received a significant pay-out. A lot of my friends started to take it, and because I had the extra money it was difficult to stay away.”

“We know there is more distribution now,” said Belkis Abudher, a public health specialist working for NAP. “When we go into primary and elementary schools it is very clear that many of the children have already been exposed to drugs like Tramadol and hashish. This was not the case before the revolution.”

A lack of drug education is one of the factors behind the explosion in drug use in Libya, according to Fannir.

“During the Gaddafi era the general public knew very little about the dangers of drugs, and the situation isn’t improving. The chaos of revolution meant many of the existing outreach and education programmes collapsed, and few have been reinstated.”

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

Christian tortured to death in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya


The coffin of Ezzat Hakim Attallah (portrait), who died in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, days after being arrested on charge for allegedly seeking to convert Muslims in Libya, is seen during his funeral service at a church in Assiut city (AFP Photo)

From the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (Cairo):

Egypt: EOHR Calls Upon Egyptian Government to Take Action Against Death of Tortured Egyptian Citizen in Detention in Libya

12 March 2013

Press release

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses worry about the death of the Egyptian citizen Ezzat Hakin Atallah under torture in detention in Libya. The Egyptian citizen was accused of entering Libya illegally and Christian preaching.

In February 2013, the Libyan police arrested about 100 Egyptian Christians in Benghazi City and charged them with illegal entrance to the Libyan territories. All the detainees were released except for 5 people including Ezzat.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that what happened to the Egyptian citizen is a serious violation of human rights, namely the right to life, liberty and personal security, which are guaranteed by international covenants on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in Article III provides that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and personal security ” as well as the International Covenant on civil and political rights, which in the sixth article states that “the right to life of every human being is a basic right, and the law should protect this right and no one shall be deprived of his life arbitrarily.” As pointed out by the Committee on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations in its general comment on the text of the previous article that the right to life is the supreme right that cannot be denied; it is permitted even in times of public emergency. The same provisions exist in both the Egyptian and Libyan laws.

In this regard, EOHR calls upon the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the Libyan government to take the suitable legal actions for investigating the Ezzat death incident and taking the perpetrators to accountability. At least one representative of the Egyptian Prosecutor General should attend the investigations on the incident to guarantee a fair trial of the murderers according to the international standards of human rights.

A Libyan newspaper editor detained since 19 December for publishing a list of judges allegedly involved in corruption in the country must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today: here.

Libya: Benghazi Coptic Church Torched: here.

Canadian government had plan to ensure commercial return on military ‘investment’ in Libya: here.

‘New’ Libya, run for your lives!


This video says about itself:

March 11, 2012

When the Libyan uprising began, many women enthusiastically took part, marching alongside men and aspiring to greater freedoms. But now they may have to pay for that liberation by losing their rights.

The Dutch government, like other NATO governments, in 2011 waged war against Libya.

After that bloody war, Libya, according to NATO logic, was “safe”. The Dutch government decided that refugees from Libya would be forced to go back to Libya. In practice, contrary to NATO theory, that might mean returning the refugees to their death.

So, safe in theory for refugees.

However, yesterday the Dutch government told Dutch nationals in the Libyan city Benghazi and the area east of Benghazi to run away immediately, because of threats of violence against them.

I myself was in Benghazi in 2006, for archaeological and birdwatching reasons.

I fondly remember the kind people.

I fondly remember, when walking along the harbour, five little terns flying.

Now, for the umpteenth time, the lies of the NATO merchants of “humanitarian” war, are exposed by bloody reality.

From News Line daily in Britain:

Friday, 25 January 2013

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! – Foreign Office tells UK nationals in Benghazi

THE UK Foreign Office yesterday urged British nationals to leave Benghazi at once in response to ‘a specific and imminent threat’ to Westerners from Al Qaeda and its supporters.

A notice on the Foreign Office website said: ‘Since September 2012, the Foreign Office has clearly advised against all travel to Benghazi and all areas of Libya, with the exception of Tripoli, Zuwara, Az Zawiya, al Khums, Zlitan and Misrata, and the coastal towns from Ras Lanuf to the Egyptian Border.

‘We are now aware of a specific and imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi, and urge any British nationals who remained there against our advice to leave immediately.

‘We have updated our Travel Advice to reflect this. The British Embassy in Tripoli has been in contact with British Nationals for whom we have contact details to alert them to the Advice.’

This ‘advice’ constitutes a huge slap in the face for the British government who spent hundreds of millions supporting the ‘Benghazi revolutionaries’, including the use of massive air power in a campaign that culminated with the murder of Colonel Gadaffi.

Now UK citizens are running for their lives from the same ‘revolutionaries’.

It has also emerged that the terrorists who laid siege to the Amenas gas plant in Algeria also took part in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed the American ambassador to Libya.

An Algerian security official has told the New York Times that three of the surviving terrorists said they were aided by Egyptian extremists who were involved in the September 11 attack on the US consulate in eastern Libya.

The Egyptians were reportedly all killed during the special forces raid on the gas plant and Hillary Clinton, the outgoing Secretary of State, said on Wednesday the US was still investigating the link.

Clinton said that there was ‘no doubt’ that the Algerian terrorists had been armed with weapons obtained from Libya.

While testifying in Washington on the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, she said: ‘There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya.

‘There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) have weapons from Libya,’ Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Algeria’s prime minister has said that 37 hostages and 29 assailants were killed in the operation. Three US citizens were reportedly also killed in the attack.

The Islamist ‘Mulathameen Brigade’ claimed responsibility for the hostage crisis, warning it would carry out similar attacks until Western powers end what it called an attack on Muslims in Mali.

Russia, which backed a UN Security Council resolution on intervention in Mali, also backed the UN Security Council resolution that was used to organise the NATO attack on Libya.

However, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Wednesday: ‘Those whom the French and Africans are fighting now in Mali are the same people who overthrew the Gadaffi regime, those that our Western partners armed so that they would overthrow the Gadaffi regime.’

Saying that terrorist attacks had almost become a daily occurrence in the region, Lavrov reiterated: ‘The situation in Mali seems to be the consequence of events in Libya.’

Libya Protects Oil Fields, Foreigners Exit: here.