By George Grant.
Tripoli, 29 November:
Dramatic new details have emerged regarding the arrest of 12 homosexuals at a birthday party in Ain Zara last Thursday.
The men were picked up by members of the Interior Ministry-affiliated Nawasi brigade, Tripoli’s largest Islamist militia, and taken into detention where they have been held since.
It has now emerged that the militia was monitoring the house in which the festivities were taking place and moved to break up the party after they spotted one of the guests dressed as a woman.
“They were on a routine patrol when they heard the music” said Ahmed, a friend of the group who was himself invited to the party that evening. “They were sitting outside for nearly half an hour. Then they saw one of the guys wearing a wig and a dress so thought it was girls having a party with boys.
“When they came inside the farm, everyone panicked and the man pulled off his dress and wig. They wanted to know where the girls were, so they beat them until one of them admitted he was gay and that’s when they were taken away.”
According to Ahmed, not his real name, another friend witnessed the militia storming the farm from his car. “He was about to go inside himself when he saw the Nawasi and he ran away.”
The man, who lives in Souk Al-Juma near to the prison where the group is now being held, heard further details of what happened inside from members of the brigade itself. “This is not a secret for them”, Ahmed said. “They are proud of it.”
Yesterday, a senior member of the Nawasi brigade told the Libya Herald that the party had been broken up following complaints from neighbours about the loud music, and was not related to the men’s sexuality.
“These guys are not straight, but that’s not the main reason we arrested them”, the Nawasi man said. “The main thing was the big noise they were making to the neighbours, as well as the large amounts of alcohol and hashish we found”.
Another friend of the arrested group, calling himself Seraj, said that the men at the party, eight of whom are believed to be from Tripoli and four from Gharyan, were being held because they are homosexuals.
“The alcohol and cannabis belonged to the band”, Seraj claimed, “and they were released the same day. Our friends are being held because they are gay.”
The Nawasi brigade has said it intends to hand the group over to the Ministry of Justice, but it is now being alleged that they have not done so owing to injuries sustained by the group at the hands of the militia.
“There are lots of marks on their faces”, said another friend calling himself Anas. “They cannot release them until they heal or people will see”. Asked how he knew this was the case, Anas said that a member of the Nawasi brigade had divulged the information to a colleague, although this information has not been independently verified.
News of the men’s arrest publicly surfaced after a photograph of the group appeared on the Nawasi’s Facebook page. In the picture, the men were shown standing in a room with their hands against a wall, accompanied by a caption referring to them as “the third sex”.
A number of comments such as “flog them hard”, “let’s see the bullets”, and “ride them like camels”, had also been posted on the site.
The Nawasi brigade has insisted that the men will not be killed, but that its Facebook page is not properly controlled. The posting has subsequently been deleted.