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Winning The Human Rights Battle!

In the International and Arabic media you find much said about human rights abuses and violations in countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and others but rarely any coverage on Libya. Is this because human rights in Libya are hardly violated! or because we Libyans (especially those living abroad) have failed to put our case to the world?
I hope many of you will agree that it is the latter.

There is no doubt that Gadhafi’s record on human rights is the worst in the region. He has been brutal with any expression of opposition to him and his regime. Killings abroad, kidnapping, public hanging, arbitrary arrests, political prisoners being tortured and killed inside prisons, no medical treatment for prisoners, no family visits, no proper courts or fair trials as an independent judiciary system is none existent in Libya and much much more.

To be accurate and fair to other countries in the region, Gadhafi can be proud of! human rights violations that are only unique to him and the Zionist entity (Israel) namely: The demolition of opponent’s houses, and the collective punishment of towns/cities.

We all recall the sight of a fifty years old honourable brave man, Othman Zirti, being hanged publicly in Tripoli in May 1984 and how the Thawreien (Like Abu-Mesaab!) were hanging and pulling from his legs! Then his wife and very young children were taken out on the street to watch their house being demolished with every thing they had in it.

In December 1995 there was a big massacre of political prisoners inside the Abu-Slim prison in Tripoli, tens, if not hundreds, were killed by Gadhafi’s guards and others were left, with bullets in their bodies, to bleed to death! No medical aid was given to the injured what so ever!

The number of political prisoners in Libya is in the thousands. Their families are never told where they are or if they are alive or dead! The only person who can authorise any prisoner release is Gadhafi himself and every year, around August time, the regime starts spreading rumours about imminent prisoner releases then nothing happens. This year was no different. Two weeks ago a Human Rights Organisation based in Washington told us in a statement that eleven political prisoners were being released that week, so far that statement has been more wishful thinking than a concrete fact! And the latest rumour is that Gadhafi himself will release about thirty prisoners before September first provided their families come and express their gratitude and loyalty to him! But it could be just another public relations stunt! and Gadhafi playing psychological torture again.

Any political prisoner release would be good, especially for the prisoners and their families. However we should not expect Gadhafi to have a sudden attack of humanity! Nor should we give his regime any credit! (Like that in the press release from Washington!) It is only co-ordinated pressure that can get us results.

The dire human rights situation in Libya has been compounded by a lack of pressure on Gadhafi from the international community who are only interested in Libya’s oil and money. It is up to us to generate that pressure. The idea of starting a legal case against Gadhafi in Belgium will attract huge interest in what is going on in Libya.
The least we could do for those Libyan brave heroes dying a slow death inside Abu-Slim, Ain Zara and tens of other prisons all over Libya, is to take their plight to the world and shout very loudly that this is a crime that must not go on any longer.

We would expect our human rights battle in Libya to be led by those human rights organisations set up outside Libya and here we find some legitimate questions un-answered. Why are there three organisations based in Switzerland alone and at least two or more based in USA while there is no co-ordinated effective work by them? Are they proper organisations founded on non-ideological basis (which how it should be) and open to all those who want to and can contribute, or are they exclusive entities!
Until we get answers, we have the right to be critical without doubting their intentions or denying them credit for the occasional press releases they issue.

We need to have a strategy. We need comprehensive documentation of all the details of the human rights violations in the last thirty-two years. then a co-ordinated effort to put all this to the world. We should be contacting institutions like: UN High Commission for Human Rights, European Human Rights court, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, European Parliament, European Commission in Brussels, Foreign Ministries of major countries dealing with Libya and many others.

We can ask them at least to do the following:
1- Send delegations to Libya and demand to inspect political prisons.
2- Put pressure on Gadhafi to release all political prisoners.
3-To link any improved relations (political or economic) with Gadhafi’s regime to major improvements in the human rights situation.

I may not have come up with any new innovative ideas here (I do not claim to!) but what I hope I can achieve is to concentrate minds on one area of our struggle with Gadhafi, That is, the suffering of our political prisoners (some are friends and colleagues) and that the human rights of every Libyan Citizen should be protected.

Winning the human rights battle is part of winning the war against Gadhafi and, as many expressed on this site, we had enough of talking. It is time to move to a higher level, a higher gear, of constructive ideas that can be translated into effective actions. The mood and state of mind of Libyans today is ready for a fresh surge in opposition work like that we witnessed, and proud to have been part of, in the early eighties! With the added advantages of much better communications available today and new generations who are not corrupted! by some of the old ways and partisan divisions!

Allah will help us, once we start helping ourselves.

Ahmed Juma


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