Libyan Human Rights Activist Brutally Murdered | Salwa Bugaighis

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 18:15 p.m. DST, 26 June 2014

"LIBYA/" Photo by: BRQ NetworkBENGHAZI, Libya -- The progress in Libya took a hit yesterday, 26 June, when Salwa Bugaighis was shot dead in her home. Bugaighis was a successful lawyer in Libya and she also was a prominent advocate for human rights. She was a vocal opponent of totalitarian rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

Since the ousting of Gaddafi, Bugaighis had played an important role in the process of political transition in Libya. She served on the National Transitional Council, which was an acting political body in Libya in the years after Gaddafi's rule. Bugaighis also oversaw a council to encourage national discussion and synergy. Essentially, Bugaighis was an important and powerful woman helping Libyans to discern their identity in the aftermath of the Gaddafi regime.

She is also credited with bringing greater democratic feelings to the transitional government, and also acting as a tireless advocate for the women of Libya.

The attack took place in the hours after Bugaighis casted her vote in the Libyan national election. After she voted, Bugaighis proudly posted images of her at the general election to social media. Seemingly, the assassination was an attempt to silence her political voice, as well as create a culture of fear in which other people will be afraid to champion human rights and political progress.

Also troubling, Bugaighis' husband has been missing since the assailants stormed the couple's home yesterday. According to reports, the activist's husband was at home with her when the invasion occurred.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Libya Declares Gaddafi Rapes as War Crimes, Paving Way for Victim Compensation

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:02 a.m. DST, 25 February 2014

Eman al-Obeidy, Libyan Woman Gang Raped by 15 Gaddafi Soldiers, Photo Courtesy of Libyan Rebel

When discussing tools of warfare, one tends to think of guns, tanks, espionage and bombs. Unfortunately though, the damaging and lasting elements of war go far beyond this list and are seldom given the attention they deserve.

For instance, rape has been utilized in war for hundreds, even thousands, of years, but since it's harder to monitor than death tolls, it commonly gets overlooked and goes unpunished.

Armies and rebel groups use it as a weapon to exert dominance, spread anarchy, and disturb the mentality of their opponents. This sad reality still happens across the globe during conflicts, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where HearCongo.org says 40% of the DRC's female population has experienced rape.

In a huge stride to fight impunity for rape, Libya's cabinet has determined that rape victims from the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi should be recognized as war victims that are entitled to the same compensation. The legislation still needs congressional approval before it will be institutionalized and thus officially recognize rape victims as equals to wounded ex-fighters.

If passed, the women like Eman al-Obeidy who was raped over the course of 72-hours by 15-soldiers loyal to Gaddafi, will have access to measures that include financial assistance, and physical and psychological care. (Anderson Cooper 360 Interview with Obeidy)

This piece of legislation is especially impressive and groundbreaking because of Libya's staunch conservatism that causes rape to be a taboo topic. Setting an example in postwar recovery will not only allow hundreds of women to come forward, but will also exemplify to other countries that rape is a war crime worth discussing, confronting, and reconciling.

Women have deserved this recognition and solace for centuries, and its long overdue for civil society stakeholders and governments to ensure this respect for human dignity is carried out. After all, investing in a healthy and safe population provides for more stable and prosperous future.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Ambassador Steven's Death Provoked by Jones?

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:29 PM EDT, 12 September 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, Photo Courtesy of the White House

BENGHAZI, Libya – This morning the White House confirmed that the California born U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and four consular staffers were murdered during a mob attack on the consulate following the release of a video which denigrated the Prophet Mohammed.

Though it is unclear when and how the four diplomats died, it is surmised that they were rushed to a secret safe house after the initial attack to await evacuation by a U.S. commando unit.

Members of the evacuation team arrived from Tripoli soon after receiving notification of the escalating violence which claimed the lives of Steven and three others diplomats.

The Libyan government issued a statement immediately condemning the violence and sympathizing with the families of the murdered. Libya's Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif expressed surprise that the armed groups knew the location of the safe house.

"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting," Sharif said. Two U.S. personnel were killed there, he said. Two other people were killed at the main consular building and between 12 and 17 wounded. (Source: Reuters)

The violence was incited by a low-budget film which was made in the summer of 2011 but was recently promoted by Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who previously garnered international attention when he threatened to burn the Qur'an. He was subsequently persuaded to abandon this incendiary act by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

However, Jones remained undeterred in his efforts to provoke Muslims, and is reported to have been actively promoting the low-budget film which denigrated the Islamic faith, the Prophet Mohammed, and Arabs.

It appears that his vigorous internet promotion of the film which also portrayed Mohammed engaging in a sex act with a woman, as a fool, a philanderer, and religious charlatan, is a culmination of his original efforts to defame and inflame Islamic sentiment.

Sam Bacile, a self-proclaimed Jew and real-estate developer, wrote and produced the movie, but is currently in hiding for fear of being murdered like the Dutch filmmaker, Van Gogh, who was killed in 2004. However, that is where the comparison ends, because Van Gogh's film titled Submission was made in conjunction with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who desired to highlight the plight of women who are forced into arranged marriages.

The White House will certainly spend the next few days consoling the families of the victims while simultaneously investigating the attacks against the U.S. Embassies in both Libya and Cairo. The newly elected, President Mohamed Morsi who represents the Muslim Brotherhood has yet to issue an apology or any statement acknowledging the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Cairo which may have been more spontaneous than the apparently well-organized coordinated attack of the Benghazi embassy.

Though it is early in the process and blame has yet to be assigned, certainly a significant amount of responsibility for fomenting the unrest that precipitated the death of these four Americans needs to be placed firmly on the shoulders of Pastor Terry Jones for promoting an obscure video with the clear intent of provoking violence. He had precedence, he knew it was incendiary, and his motives are Machiavellian at most and irresponsible in the extreme.

As many have expressed today throughout Social Media outlets, this is not something that Jesus would have done because he advocated peace and ended all conflicts out of love. It is unfortunate that religions as interpreted by extremists have led to more heart-ache, tragedy, and death of human beings since time immemorial, and we would be well served to embrace tolerance in this era of greater interconnectedness.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Sub-Saharan Immigrants Suffer in Libya

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 21:25 PM EDT, 28 March 2012

Libyan Rebel SoldierTRIPOLI, Libya - Illegal immigration is a problem in emerging economies where many migrants seek to make the dangerous journey to Europe in hope of a better life. Libya, as a gateway to Europe, finds itself in a politically sensitive position with regard to immigrants.

Specifically, native-born Libyans now seem to have a serious problem with 'black' Africans. Sub-Saharan Africans are now viewed with suspicion and are often discriminated against through racial profiling. Because of their skin color they are easily identifiable and singled out.

Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader recruited thousands of mercenaries – nearly 30,000 according to the nonprofit group Human Rights Solidarity – largely from Sub-Saharan countries. The men were reportedly hired to take care of the dirty work of repression, and many were ruthless in their violence.

Shortly after the overthrow and death of Gaddafi, rebels hunted down mercenaries from Nigeria, Ghana, Chad, and Mauritania, including some black Libyans who were subsequently detained, beaten and extra-judicially killed. Even immigrants who have legally entered the country suffer immense discrimination.

Because most Libyans view Sub-Saharan Africans with suspicion, illegal immigrants fare much worse, especially those caught at the borders. Just outside of Tripoli there is a camp that houses about 600 detainees who have been caught trying to cross the border illegally.

Most have used all their money and resources to get to Libya which is a gateway to Europe. They don't want to stay in the North African country, but are simply seeking passage to countries where they can work in anonymity.

Once detained men and women are housed separately and subjected to harsh conditions. They are housed in corrugated steel buildings with concrete floors and no heating.  Many of the men complain that they haven't had access to telephones and are therefore unable to contact their families to let them know what has happened. According to a BBC report, they also state that many are sick and lack access to healthcare, and are hungry.

There are just a few wardens to guard over 600 prisoners and they recognize that this is a potential human rights violation, but are powerless to do anything about it.  They are doing their jobs though some sympathize with these immigrants who are just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

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Bahrain's Bloody Spring

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:58 PM EDT, 23 February 2012

King Hamad Bin Isa Al-KhalifaMANAMA, Bahrain - Only history will reveal the true extent of change wrought by the 2011 Arab Spring, but it is obvious that the situation in the Middle East is fundamentally different from what it was a year ago. Many changes have occurred, though many appear to be cosmetic when measured against the deep historical changes which did not materialize.

The Arab Spring revolution started peacefully in Tunisia, then spread to Egypt, where the ruling family led by President Hosni Mubarak chose to violently suppress protesters.

As the world watched with fascination, emboldened citizens in Libya, Yemen and Syria also took to the streets to demand regime change.

Courageous protesters risked imprisonment, torture and death in the pursuit of freedom. Journalists and on-the-ground activists leveraged traditional and social media outlets to expose human rights violations which eventually resulted in the dethroning or exile of entrenched heads of states, their families and coteries.

But, as the immediacy of the revolution began to fade, the citizens of the island kingdom of Bahrain continue to be oppressed. The Sunni ruling monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, rules over a Shia Muslim majority, and in his efforts to thwart the reform demanded by the populace, his government has been accused of sanctioning gross human rights violations.

On 14 February 2011, Bahrainis dissidents organized massive protests coordinated by word of mouth, texts messages, and "a Facebook page named "Day of Rage in Bahrain", a page that was liked by more than 90,000 people just one week after its creation.

The Bahrain government responded with what has been described as a "brutal" crack down on the protest, including shocking violations of human rights that caused massive anger. Later on, demonstrators demanded that King Hamad step down." (Source: Wikipedia)

In an effort to demonstrate equanimity and transparency, King Hamad ordered the creation of an Independent Commission of Inquiry. The Commission has subsequently recommended reform and advised the monarchy to provide unfettered access to the country by Human Rights NGO's that are currently denied entry to document abuses.

Bahrain's Bloody Spring is a human rights travesty, but the rest of the world bears some responsibility for ignoring these people who have given so much in pursuit of a more democratic governmental process.

The award-winning documentary which follows, won the Foreign Press Association Documentary Award of the year. It provides a graphic and unvarnished portrait of the dangers protesters and those who would assist them face. We need to spread the word to let them know that their efforts are not in vain and their struggle is not forgotten.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xaTKDMYOBOU]

 

Gaddafi's Daughter Appeals to ICC

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:06 PM EDT, 4 February 2012

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Muammar Gaddafi's daughter, Aisha Gaddafi's petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of her brother was rejected on Thursday, 23 January. The son of the former President is awaiting trial in Libya on rape and murder charges.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, has also been charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Libyan civil war of last year. He attempted to elude capture by fleeing into the Sahara desert disguised as a Bedouin. The ICC insists that al-Islam be tried in The Hague because of their jurisdiction over the case.

Last year the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, and the Libyan leader's intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi. Because of this, their case takes precedence over Libya's. The National Transitional Council of Libya is equally vociferous in their assertion that Saif al-Islam should be tried at home.

Supporters of al-Islam are concerned about the impartiality of the Libyan judicial system given the emotional hostilities that remain after the death of President Gaddafi. The ICC rejected Aisha's request for her brother to receive foreign legal representation. They also rejected a similar request by human rights activist Mishana Hosseinioun stating that both were "misplaced and contrary" to court procedures.