News and Views

April 1997

29 April 1997: The United States Supreme Court Monday let stand a ruling that Libya has sovereign immunity shielding it from a lawsuit filed on behalf of a victim killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The civil case was brought by Bruce Smith, whose wife, Ingrid, was among the 259 people killed when a bomb exploded in a suitcase on board the plane on 21 December 1988. Eleven people on the ground in the little Scottish town also died. The lawsuit alleged that Libya was behind the bombing and charged that two Libyan agents carried out the attack. It named Libya, the Libyan Security Organization and Libyan Arab Airlines, as well as the two Libyans. A U.S. Court of Appeals in New York in November upheld a federal judge's ruling dismissing the lawsuit against Libya for lack of jurisdiction. It said Libya enjoyed immunity under the foreign sovereign immunities law. [Reuters]
29 April 1997: Malta said on Friday Libya had agreed to repay its debts to Malta within a short time. The deal on debt repayment was one of several agreements reached during a visit to Tripoli by a Maltese delegation headed by Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella, officials said. The Malta Department of Information said Libya had agreed to repay its debts within a short time but gave no figure. Another agreement covered ways to solve legal problems over an explosion on board the Libyan tanker Um El Faroud at Malta Drydocks in February 1995 during which nine Maltese workers died. A Maltese court had said the dockyard was to blame for the blast, but the yard has appealed, denying blame. The department said Malta and Libya had also agreed to secure more orders for Limsuk, a supermarket in Libya marketing Maltese products. The orders are to amount to between $15 million and $20 million. [Reuters]
28 April 1997: Libya's giant Murzuk oil field is producing at a rate of about 50,000 barrels per day and is on course to hit its target of 100,000 barrels per day by the end of 1997, industry sources said on Thursday. [Reuters]
28 April 1997: Egypt Air began flying Libyan pilgrims home Sunday from Saudi Arabia where they had gone for the pilgrimage [Hajj,] an official of the airline told reporters. The first five Egypt Air planes will transport the pilgrims from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, Hussein Abdel Rahman, the Egypt Air official in charge of pilgrims' flights, said. The Egyptian company will bring 11,000 Libyan pilgrims on 45 special flights between Sunday and May 10. Libyan Air Lines planes are not allowed to fly under UN sanctions which have been in effect since April 1992. [AFP]
New items in "Libya: Our Home" main page:
Pictures of the Italian occupation [Part 1] and Pictures of the Italian occupation [Part 2]

25 April 1997: Egypt is selecting the route for a pipeline to bring 150,000 barrels a day of Libyan crude to refineries in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egyptian Oil Minister said on Tuesday. The pipeline is a long-term strategic objective to ensure supplies of crude as Egypt's own reserves decline, he told a news conference. (Reuters)
25 April 1997: Sudanese Minister of State Yusuf Abd al-Fattah has denied that Sudanese President Umar Hasan al-Bashir sought military aid from Libya during his recent visit. Abd al-Fattah told al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that President Bashir's visit to Libya was in response to an invitation from Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi with a view to "ironing out current problems between Sudan and Uganda". (BBCMS)
25 April 1997: Libyan TV reported that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has received the ambassador of the Vatican City State accredited to Libya. Vatican ambassador told al-Qadhafi that the pope loves Libya very much and "I believe that his greatest concern is the issue of the embargo. His mind is very clear that the embargo is not just. He wanted to have this relationship with you and he was very, very concerned about this. He did not listen to pressure from the USA." "... I tell you that the embargo is unfair and that is very clear to me. " the ambassador said. (BBCMS)
25 April 1997: Libyan TV reported that the General People's Committee for Health and Social Security has urged Libyan citizens and People's Committees at the Basic People's Congresses, partnerships and public companies to make sure that all health checks on immigrants are being carried out, and to refrain from offering them work or residence before making sure that the immigrants have undergone the necessary [medical] check-ups, which certify them free from contagious diseases, and that they have an address where they can be contacted for periodic health checks. Libyan TV reported that the Health Affairs Office at al-Qadhafi quarter in the southern town of al-Kufrah has discovered that 34 [foreign] infiltrators were suffering from hepatitis A. (BBCMS)
23 April 1997: Thirteen years ago, this week, the British government expelled all the Libyan embassy staff in London. On the 22nd of April 1984, British authorities ordered the Libyan embassy staff to go home after accusing them of the shooting in Saint James Square [17 April 1984] where 74 [opposition] Libyans were demonstrating to commemorate the 7th of April day. Some demonstrators were injured and a British policewomen was killed. Libyan demonstrators and the British government accused Libya of the shooting while the Libyan government accused Western intilligence of the Saint James Square incident. A documentary on British TV suggested years after the incident that the bullets might have come from a different building, for details please click here
23 April 1997: Some 250 Palestinian refugees forced out of a desert camp on the Libyan-Egyptian border have been herded into a new camp in eastern Libya where conditions are difficult, a relative said Tuesday. The Egyptian wife of one of the refugees said they are now in a camp near Tobruq, apparantly an abandoned military base, which has no beds or drinking water. The refugees had camped out on the Egyptian border since 1995 when Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi ordered the expulsion of 30,000 Palestinians from Libya to show the "failure" of the autonomy accords with Israel. Egypt refused to grant them entry because they did not have valid travel documents. The refugees turned down offers to return to Libya because they wanted guarantees they would get their jobs and property back. However, Libyan soldiers arrived at the camp on dawn Friday to order the Palestinians onto buses back into Libya and to dismantle their tents. "Despite assurances from the Libyan authorities that they would be allowed to work again, the refugees are completely cut off from the rest of the world," said the refugee's Cairo-based wife. She was evacuated by the Libyan soldiers Friday as she visited her husband for the Moslem feast of Al-Adha (sacrifice), but was allowed to return to Cairo the next day. (AFP)
20 April 1997: A Libyan viewer writes: "... I strongly feel that you are either paid by Gathafi or serving him for other reasons. It is very clear that you gave him the exposure that he would hope to have on the internet. With a click of a mouse you have allowed people to view what Gathafi wants them to see. Make your self clear, Ibrahim, if you are a real Libyan dissident . You cannot have it both ways."
New Libyan sites: Libya Chat Room and Hatem Sunni Tarus' Home Page
Libyan Relief Fund

19 April 1997: Libyan soldiers on Friday forced 250 Palestinians stranded in no-man's land on the Egyptian border to return to Libya and worked into the night to dismantle their refugee camp. An AFP correspondent saw the soldiers pile tents into trucks and said there were no refugees left in the 170-tent camp, several hours after the surprise evacuation. An Egyptian security source at the Sallum border post said the Palestinians were taken to the Libyan town of Tobruk, "where they have been put up in apartments in four buildings." Earlier a witness said that up to 50 armed Libyan troops, accompanied by security agents, "forced the Palestinians on four buses, shoving and hitting the reluctant ones."
"The Palestinians refused to go, so they shoved them and hit some with their rifles," the witness said, adding that no shots were fired.
Libyan security sources, quoted by travellers, said the evacuation was ordered "because the Palestinians were becoming a threat to Egyptian and Libyan security, because many were trafficking in drugs and contraband." An Egyptian security source said the Libyans had found "more than 10 tents packed with contraband food, and they are putting it in trucks with the dismantled tents to take back to Libya." Twenty-one people of other nationalities, including Nigerians, also living in the camp were rounded up and taken to Libya. Their fate will be discussed by Egypt and Libya next week, the source said. (AFP)
18 April 1997: Libyan poet Ghunaywah Mas'oud Hubayl has died from his injuries following an assassination attempt late last month, Libyan television reported on Thursday. Quoting a statement from the Libyan interior ministry, the television report said Hubayl died on Sunday, "assassinated by a hateful, mean and irresponsible hand." The report said that Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi had visited him in hospital after the attack on March 29. (AFP)
18 April 1997: Speaking to an international gathering in Sirte, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said that he is planning to establish a new party. Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper said that the new party will be named "Hizb Allah" or party of God. Al-Qadhafi said that the new party's membership will be international. For more details (in Arabic) please click here
17 April 1997: U.N. sanctions on Libya imposed for the Lockerbie bombing entered their sixth year on Wednesday with little prospect of the embargo ending in the near future. The sanctions came into effect after Libya refused to extradite two of its citizens wanted in the United States and Britain for their alleged role in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. "The sanctions succeeded in shaking us, but did not succeed in forcing us to hand over our two citizens...and I don't imagine this will happen in the future,'' said Libyan lawyer Ibrahim Legwell, who represents the suspects. Libya had agreed to a trial of the two in a neutral country, but the United States and Britain insist the trial must be in their territory. The sanctions include a ban on flights to and from Libya, an embargo on arms sales, and downgraded diplomatic relations. They were tightened in 1993 with the addition of a freeze of some of Libya's assets abroad and a ban on its imports of certain types of equipment used in oil transport terminals and refineries. "Did the sanctions seriously hit Libya during the last five years?...I would say that they certainly worsened the general conditions of life of Libyan citizens, but would add that they had little effect on the Libyan rulers themselves,'' a Tripoli-based Arab diplomat said. Libyan citizens saw themselves as victims of the embargo. "We the small people are the only ones who suffer from the sanctions with the austerity measures imposed on us...,'' said Abdallah, a civil servant in Tripoli. The most visible effect of the sanctions is that of the air embargo on travellers, forcing a 400-km journey between Tripoli and the airport of the Tunisian island of Jerba. Libyan officials estimate the sanctions have cost the country about $7 billion a year, mainly damaging the agriculture, industry, finance and trade sectors. In addition, they said patients were dying because of the lack of emergency flights for treatment abroad. (Reuters)
16 April 1997: Tomorrow, the 17 of April, is the 13th anniversary of the Libyans demonstration in front of the Libyan embassy in London. On Tuesday morning [17 April 1984] 74 Libyans arrived in front of the Libyan embassy in Saint James square, London, where they planned to commemorate the 7th of April day. Few minutes later somebody started shooting and some demonstrators were injured [see photo] and a British policewomen was killed. The demonstrators and British police accused the Libyan embassy staff of the shooting while Libyan authorities accused Western intelligence of planning the Saint James Square incident.
16 April 1997: The Libyan secretary of the General People's Congress met the South Korean [deputy] prime minister, O-ki Kwon, in the Korean capital, Seoul.
16 April 1997: The president of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, telephoned Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The conversation was on current affairs in central and eastern Africa and the most peaceful ways to solve the disputes in the region.
16 April 1997: Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that Informed diplomatic sources in Tunisia have told its reporters that efforts are being made to clear the atmosphere in Palestinian-Libyan relations, which have witnessed some tension following the Libyan authorities' expulsion of Palestinians who were resident in Libya towards the Egyptian borders. According to these diplomatic sources, unpublicized meetings were held between PLO Executive Committee Secretary Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazin) and Ibrahim al-Bishari, a prominent Libyan official in the Tunisian city of Jerba.
16 April 1997: Malta on Tuesday called for the European Union's partnership with 12 of its Mediterranean neighbours to be extended to include Libya, currently excluded because, according to the EU, of its sponsorship of terrorism. Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella told the 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Conference that the question of enlargement of the forum "cannot be indefinitely sidestepped." Opening the door of the forum to all Mediterranean countries would enhance political dialogue within the partnership and make it easier for it to achieve its objective of increasing stability and security in the region, he said. (AFP)
16 April 1997: Libya on Monday held commemorations to remember the 37 people who died in two US air raids against the country in 1986, the official JANA news agency reported. JANA said flags flew at half mast and many citizens either dressed in black or wore black armbands to mark the air raids on the capital Tripoli and Benghazi on April 15, 1986. "With their black dress or their armbands, Libyans commemorated the barbarous aggression against the Arab Libyan people, which caused many casualties among old people, women and children," said the agency. It added that all traffic stopped across the country for five minutes, and telephone links with the rest of the world were cut. (AFP)
16 April 1997: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir left Libya by air Sunday in defiance of UN sanctions against Tripoli, after holding talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and government officials from Uganda, Libyan television said . The television showed Al-Bashir boarding a plane at the airport in the coastal town of Sirte. (AFP)
14 April 1997: Tomorrow, the 15th of April, is the 24th anniversary of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's speech in the city of Zwara [15 April 1973] in which he introduced his five-point plan [al-Niqat al-Khams.] Al-Qadhafi said in his speech that the Libyan people must form People's Committees [Lijan Sha'biyah] and impliment his plan [in order to keep the 1st of September Revolution march going forward.] For more details, please click here
14 April 1997: Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky held talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Libya's state-run television said on Sunday. A delegation of Russian members of parliament accompanied Zhirinovsky in the meeting with al-Qadhafi on Saturday night, it said without giving further details. Zhirinovsky arrived on Wednesday night in Tripoli for his fourth visit to Libya. His last visit was in January when he also met al-Qadhafi. (Reuter)
14 April 1997: In a statement issued Sunday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the April 1977 execution of 21 army officers accused of trying to engineer a coup against Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in August 1975, the [opposition] National Front for the Salvation of Libya said that al-Qadhafi's government has assassinated 328 opponents in 17 years. "According to our information, 328 Libyan men and women have been assassinated by the regime between April 1977 and the end of August 1994," said the statement. The statement said 294 had died inside Libya -- 84 from torture, 50 executed in public, 140 in premeditated accidents and 20 in fights with "collaborators of the regime." The NFSL said 34 others had been killed abroad, mainly in Europe. (AFP)
13 April 1997: A Libyan viewer writes: " I am looking for integral text of some "Libyan" Basis Laws including the Himayat al-Thawra Law; al-Hizbya Law .... In case you have any could you please publish them on your home page. If this is not, for any reason, possible, could you please send me a personal copy. "
To view "Qanoon Himayat al-Thawra" please click here
To view "Qanoon Tajreem al-Hizbiyah" please click here
13 April 1997: Tomorrow, the 14th of April, is the 11th anniversary of the United States military attack on Libya on 14 April 1986. On that day, the United States launched an air attack against targets in Libya in which Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's residence was bombed and many civilians were killed. The American official justification for the 1986 raids on Libya was self-defence [Libya's involvement in the 5 April 1985 Berlin descotheque bombings,] but up to date there has not been any evidence of Libya's involvement in the Berlin bombings. For more details, please click here
12 April 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi held talks in Tripoli Friday with Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir who arrived earlier Friday for an official visit, Libyan television said. The two men discussed recent developments in the Arab world. (AFP)
12 April 1997: The United States said Friday European countries may be exempted from penalties under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act as a result of their toughened stance towards Iran. Under an accord reached in Washington between the US and the European Union, Washington said it will examine whether some countries meet the conditions for a waiver, American Under Secretary of Commerce Stuart Eizenstat said. (AFP)
11 April 1997: Libyan Central Bank Governor Tahar al-Jehimi arrived in Malta on Thursday for talks expected to focus on problems of payments for Maltese exports to Libya, Al-Jehimi would meet Malta's Central Bank Governor Francis Vassallo and government officials. The visit comes less than a week after one by Libyan foreign minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser who told a news conference that the delay in payments were due to bureaucratic problems which would soon be resolved. It is unclear how much Libya owes Malta. (Reuters)
11 April 1997: Libyan leader Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi received a letter from Egyptian Prisent Husni Mubarak. In his letter President Mubarak denounced Israel's arrogance towards the Arab nation, adding that this arrogance was supported economically and militarily by America and that the USA was using its veto at the so-called [UN] Security Council to defend this Israeli arrogance. This requires us to exchange views and consult on the best ways to confront these developments with determination and firmness in order to protect the Arab nation's rights and vital interests. (BBCMS)
11 April 1997: The chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, is to fly to Libya. He was invited by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, the party's press service has announced. (BBCMS)
11 April 1997: Libya on Wednesday rejected the Security Council's criticism of a recent flight by a Libyan aircraft taking pilgrims from Tripoli to Saudi Arabia in defiance of U.N. sanctions. Referring to a statement the council issued at a meeting last Friday, Libyan U.N. envoy Abuzed Dorda said in a letter to the council president that the pilgrimage to Mecca was a religious duty for Moslems and did not require authorisation. "Its performance and the choice of a means of reaching the Holy Places is one of the rights of a Moslem on which there are no religious restrictions and with respect to which he does not require anyone's intercession or permission," Dorda said. (Reuters)
9 April 1997: In an address to mark the 21st anniversary of the students' revolution
of 7 April 1976, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has dismissed the outcome of Arab meetings on Jerusalem as "mere ink on paper". "The Zionist movement in East Jerusalem must be confronted by an Arab counter-movement to occupy East Jerusalem and deny any Zionist entry," he said. Speaking to a student gathering in Tripoli [ broadcast live on Libyan TV ] al-Qadhafi urged Arab action against the USA and said Arabs did not need US help. "The solution is at our feet; in our land and with our own will." He said Libya will contact students across the Arab world and urge them to establish Arab unity. (BBCMS)
For a full text of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's speech, please click here
9 April 1997: Libyan Radio reported that the Syrian prime minister, Mahmud al-Zu'bi, received in Damascus Libyan secretary of the General People's Committee for Finance, who is currently visiting Syria to attend the meeting of the general assemblies of joint Libyan-Syrian companies. The two sides discussed bilateral relations between Libya and Syria and ways to strengthen and develop them.
9 April 1997: The chairman of the board of directors for Libyan Airlines, Muhammad Absim, has said that the air embargo imposed on Libya five years ago has involved the airline in losses amounting to 900 million dollars, the Egyptian news agency MENA reported. During a visit to Egypt, Absim added that the airline's fleet of 31 aircraft had dwindled to 10. He pointed out that the embargo on spare parts had caused the number of domestic flights to decrease substantially and said that the airline's reputation, built up over a period of 32 years, had been destroyed.
6 April 1997: Foreign ministers from more than 70 developing nations will press to be treated as equals in the global economy and demand more power in the United Nations when they meet in New Delhi, India, this week. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference, starting on Monday, will also urge the UN Security Council to review an air embargo imposed on Libya, according to a draft resolution obtained by Reuters.
6 April 1997: Tomorrow is the 21st anniversary of the Libyan students day of 7 April 1976, when many students in the University of Tripoli and the University of Benghazi, following Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's call for cleansing the schools from anti-revolution elements, were arrested after a fight with pro-government elements which answered al-Qadhafi's call and attacked the universities and established the Revolutionary Committees which took control of the two universities. For more details, please click here.
5 April 1997: Libyan Foreign Minister Omar al-Montasser said on Friday Libya felt "jittery'' when foreign warships visited Malta. Speaking at a news conference with Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella, Montasser said: "We do not like it, they are too close, but we understand Malta's position.'' "These visits create some activity in Malta, and we appreciate that the Maltese dockyard is not open to foreign warships, but when the enemy, like the United States, gets too close, one gets jittery,'' al-Montasser said. Two U.S. ships, the guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf and the amphibious assault ship Nassau, have visited Malta since the Labour government took office in October. But in March the Maltese government announced the number of foreign warships visiting Malta would be restricted. (Reuter)
5 April 1997: The Libyan and Moroccan governments have signed a deal to manufacture Fiat cars, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Friday. JANA said the agreement was signed at the coastal Libyan city of Sirt at the end of a three-day visit to Libya by Moroccan Prime Minister Abdellatif Filali. "The agreement is for establishing joint projects for manufacturing cars in the two countries to reinforce and boost their bilateral cooperation in all domains," JANA said. Two Fiat cars of the model to be manufactured had been offered to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi by the Moroccan business delegation accompagning Filali on his visit, JANA said. Libya and Morocco would provide 60 percent of the car's components and the Libyan input would be from the iron and steel mill at Misrata and from the country's petrochemical complex, it added. (Reuter)
5 April 1997: Libyan Foreign Minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser is visiting Malta to meet Prime Minister Alfred Sant in the first official high-level meetings since Malta's Labour government took power. The Libyan embassy said on Thursday al-Montasser would also hold talks with Foreign Minister George Vella.
5 April 1997: The United Nations Security Council Friday denounced Libya for a "clear violation" of a UN air embargo for carrying passengers from Libya for the annual hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In a statement read by council president Antonio Monteiro of Portugal, the council noted that arrangements had been made for Libyan worshippers [al-Hujjaj] to travel to Saudi Arabia without violating the embargo. But diplomats here said no additional action is planned against Tripoli. (AFP)
2 April 1997: South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co said on Monday it agreed with Libya's Electronics General Co to export $160 million worth of colour television sets for three years. A company statement said Samsung would ship a total of 500,000 colour television sets along with components and manufacturing technology. (Reuters)
2 April 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Tunisian President Zain al-Abideen Ben Ali discussed Israel's construction of controversial new Jewish housing in disputed east Jerusalem, the Libyan official JANA news agency said Tuesday. The telephone conversation turned on the "unjust demands and provocations by the Israeli enemy, supported by the United States, which aims to Judaize Jerusalem, in addition to its aggression against the Arab nation," JANA said. (AFP)
2 April 1997: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Wilayati on Monday left Libya after handing leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi an invitation to an Islamic summit next December in Tehran, the official Libyan news agency JANA said. In his message Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani expressed his strong desire that Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi attends personally the conference of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. (Reuters)
A Libyan viewer writes: As we remember April 1976, I suggest that you publish a poem titled "Hatta Naltaki" [Till we meet again] (The General Union of the Students of Libya's magazine "Shuhada' Libya" April 1985.) Please click here to view it.
Next Saturday [ 5 April 1997] Libyan students remember Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's speech in the town of Solouq [ 5 April 1976 ] where he called on those in attendance to excercise their power and authority to control the universities.
The idea was that those in attendance were to march to the universities and get rid of the anti-Qadhafi's student activists who in January 1976 lead the student uprising in Benghazi and Tripoli and continued to pressure the government for independendt student unions and for more political and social democratic freedoms, but those in attendance refused to attack the schools. For more details, please click here
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