Tripoli, 25 July:
The Libyan human rights defence group Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) has condemned continuing attacks against people from Tawergha. Calling them an affront to the values that underpinned the Libyan revolution it has demanded that such attacks be fully investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice.
“The continued attacks against Tawerghans are an affront to efforts at re-building Libya on a foundation of respect for the rights of all its citizens,” said Elham Saudi, director of LFJL. “Regional and political affiliations can never be justification for brutality and violence. These attacks against civilians constitute a travesty against the rights and freedoms of Libyans and a stain on the country’s transition to peace and democracy,” she added.
The LFJL condemnation follows a reported attack on 19 July in a camp housing Tawerghan refugees in Benghazi in which a Tawerghan was allegedly deliberately run over by a car. This then led to in violent clashes in the camp.
Accused of having brutally supported the Qaddafi regime in attacks on Misrata during the revolution, some 35,000 people were expelled from Tawergha afterwards by Misratan forces. It is now a ghost town. They are now displaced in several locations throughout the country. The largest single group are living at the Naval Academy at Janzour, west of Tripoli.
In February 2012, the camp was raided by militias, resulting in the death of seven Tawerghans, including three children.
“Despite calls to ensure their protection, the Tawerghans living in the camps have been subject to regular raids and have been the target of systematic episodes of violence,” the LFJL statement read.
Applauding the fact that Tawerghans were able to vote in the National Congress elections, the NFJL is insisting that that far more be done by the governments to protect the camps’ populations from what it calls “systematic” attacks. It also points out that, according to the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Libya, published in March, the treatment of the Tawerghans by militias amounted to “a crime against humanity”.
“The government must ensure such reprisal attacks are prevented by guaranteeing Tawerghans physical protection and security. Committed and genuine efforts must be made to ensure the safety and well-being of the Tawerghan people and all citizens at risk of acts of revenge and reprisal”, the LFJL statement says.
“As Libya inches towards becoming a constitutional democracy, it is vital that revolutionary legitimacy be replaced by the rule of law”, said Saudi. “Justice should not be the preserve of only the perceived victors of Libya’s conflict and should be guaranteed for all Libyans. It is important that the Qaddafi regime’s legacy of oppression and vengeance be replaced by a Libya where the inalienable rights and freedoms of all citizens are guaranteed and protected. Achieving peace, justice and reconciliation requires building trust between communities. Without this trust and equality of treatment for all citizens, we risk repeating the worst atrocities of the previous regime.”
Yesterday, Tuesday, British journalist Sharon Ward was deported from Libya for filming conditions at the Janzour camp without permission from the proper authorities.