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

Ramadan Kareem 2012 | Post Arab Springs

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:58 AM EDT, 20 July 2012

MIDDLE EAST, ASIA, & AFRICA – Across the globe 1 billion Muslims have begun to celebrate Ramadan 2012 which will start on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue until Saturday, the 18th of August. For the next 30 days, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink, sex, and other physical needs from sun up to sundown.

During this time, observant and non-observant Muslims are challenged to reevaluate their lives and make the appropriate adjustments to bring their actions and lifestyle back in line with Islamic teachings. Adherents are commanded to make peace with those who have wronged them or whom they have wronged, resist engaging in bad habits, help the poor, purify their souls and refocus on God.

The holiday occurs amidst numerous conflicts which continue to besiege the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Springs. Most notably: the ongoing civil war in Syria, the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the death of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi at the hands of rebel fighters.

Just like the Syrian government remains at odds with its citizens and other nations with the exception of Russia and China; it has also set itself apart by proclaiming that Ramadan will begin on Saturday, 21 July 2012.

Internecine conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims regarding religious interpretation is particularly evident during this holy month. The differences between the two streams are quite complex and historically rooted in the dispute over succession following the death of the Prophet Mohammed.

Thus, “Dar al-Fatwa, the highest religious authority for Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, announced on Thursday that Friday will be the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. While the Higher Islamic Shiite Council declared that the first day of Ramadan will start on Saturday.” (Source: yaLibnan)

Today, the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawi, which is a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam, announced that Ramadan will begin on Saturday. But, the Syrian National Council which seeks to overthrow the Assad government said that the holy day will be observed starting Friday.

In a grand gesture, Egypt’s newly elected President Mohammed Morsi ‘righted wrong doing’ by pardoning 572 pro-democracy activists who were arrested during protests for regime change. While Israeli President Shimon Peres extended a Ramadan Kareem greeting via video to Muslims worldwide. (Watch Here)

During this month of Ramadan, Muslims are challenging themselves personally and communally to continue their commitment to God, to achieving peace, and promoting greater understanding of their faith and culture.

It is incumbent upon the rest of us to meet moderate Muslims half-way if we as a human race ever expect to achieve peaceful coexistence with all people despite country of origin, culture, or religious practices.

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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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.