Archive for June 2011
In an ominous development, the Human Rights Watch issued a press release today from Tunis that accused the Libyan opposition authorities of seizing civilians without formal charges and ignoring any semblance of due process of law.
The human rights group said one of the people held by the rebels was apparently tortured to death.
The detentions involved about 300 people, both civilians and combatants, since the fighting erupted in February. Human Rights Watch interviewed about 20 of the detainees in the past three months. None of the 20 told the organization that they were mistreated while in custody, but 4 said they abused when they were captured. None were able to see a lawyer or get any sort of hearing.
One man who has been released said he was seized after a personal enemy accused him.
Detainees are required to sign a document promising not to “say or do anything against the Martyrs of the February 17 Brigade.” The press release also said that relatives must promise to take responsibility if the person takes actions that “harm the revolution.”
The human rights group pointed out that many volunteer bands were active in the rebel-held areas of the divided country and that these had seized and brought many of the civilians to the rebel authorities. The press release urged the rebel leaders to reign in these armed bands.
The release talks of the violence by the Qaddafi government against civilians, but says, “The Qaddafi government’s deplorable human rights record does not absolve the opposition authorities from respecting human rights and abiding by international humanitarian law.”
The press release, issued early Sunday morning, got scant attention from the big news organizations. I saw the item in a CNN roundup. For the most part, media coverage of Libya has been strongly pro-intervention, lined up for anyone who talks rebellion and democracy. Yet, the experts seems to be very murky about who the rebels are and why they are better, for Libya and for the world, than Qaddafi.
It’s easy enough for anyone with an internet connection to get the Human Rights Watch release here.
Ever since the combined American and European adventure into Libya began, it seemed to me like a misguided intervention on behalf of the devil we don’t know against Qaddafi, the aging devil that we do know. See previous posts Power Rangers Who Kill for Peace and It’s About the Cartoons.