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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Libya 1706. A Week through.


Expression and Art, in Libya



Rebels pushing through towards Tripoli

Libyan rebels say captured cell phone videos show rape, torture

By Sara Sidner, CNN
June 17, 2011 -- Updated 1217 GMT (2017 HKT)

Rape by the Rygime's Bastards in Libya

Misrata, Libya (CNN) -- On the front lines of Libya's war, rebel fighters say they are finding more than weapons on captured or killed soldiers loyal to ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
Rebels say they have confiscated cell phones that contain video showing Gadhafi loyalists raping women and torturing people.
CNN has obtained a copy of a video shot on a cell phone that appears to show a woman being sexually abused. The person who gave the video to CNN says it was on a cell phone that was confiscated from a Gadhafi loyalist.
It shows two men in civilian clothes standing over a naked woman who is bent over with her face on the floor.
The man standing behind her is sodomizing her with what appears to be a broomstick. "I can't bear it! I can't bear it!" the woman cries.
"Let's push it farther," a male voice says off-camera.
"No, no, that's enough!" the woman begs.
Eventually, one of the men puts his sock-covered foot on her face. In Arab culture, that is considered a major insult. But in this case, it pales in comparison to what the victim is already enduring.
Arabic speakers who listened to the video at CNN's request say the voices have Tripoli accents. There is no date on the video and the men in it are not wearing military uniforms.
CNN has been unable to verify the video's authenticity, when it was shot, or by whom. The person who gave it to CNN asked not to be identified for fear of being punished by Libya's conservative society.
The Gadhafi government did not respond to CNN requests for comment on the allegations of abuse.
But officials have said in response to similar accusations in the past that the government has not been able to verify the claims and would "welcome" a fact-finding mission.
We were able to confirm that rape was used as a weapon of war because it was systematic.
--Rebel spokesman Abdullah al-Kabeir
ICC reacts to Libya rape claims
Reporting without media freedom in Libya
An opposition spokesman says the video illustrates a pattern of abuse.
"We were able to confirm that rape was used as a weapon of war, because it was systematic," rebel spokesman Abdullah al-Kabeir said.
The rebels have many videos showing other types of torture, and a few depict rape, he said. He did not know exactly how many videos there were showing abuse.
One of the most famous faces of Libya's revolution, Eman al-Obeidy, dramatically claimed in March she had been gang-raped by pro-Gadhafi forces. She has since fled the country.
A Libyan psychologist who has conducted an investigation of her own says al-Obeidy's case is not unique.
Siham Sergewa says she has evidence of hundreds of cases of rape by pro-Gadhafi troops.
She began her investigation after receiving phone calls from women who said they had been sexually assaulted. Her survey of 50,000 people in refugee camps turned up 259 people who said they had been raped, she said last month.
"They tie up my husband, they rape me in front of my husband and then they kill my husband," Sergewa said one woman told her.
"I'm a psychologist and I've seen lots of things, really. But sometimes after I leave some of these families I just sit in my car and cry because it's really so painful," she said.
She has compiled a number of distressing images that she says demonstrate the abuse of alleged victims. One appears to show a cigarette burn on a woman's breast, another a faded bite mark, while several others show the deep purple hue of nasty bruises.
Sergewa shared her research, complete with pictures and recordings, with the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, where prosecutors are investigating accusations that the Gadhafi regime has used rape as a tool of war.
"The victims are starting to come out," the court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told CNN Thursday. "But in our court the crimes are massive and the crimes we are charging Gadhafi with are crimes against humanity, meaning a widespread and systematic attack -- in this case through rapes -- so we don't need to prove one case; we need to prove massive numbers of cases.
"In this case, the evidence can be different. It could be soldiers who were given instructions on how to do it. The evidence could be doctors or psychologists who have spoken to the victims. That's the kind of evidence we are collecting."
The court is still in the evidence-collecting stage, he said. For the video to be part of that evidence, its authenticity would have to be certified, he said. "These are interesting pieces, but it isn't the only way to put forward the case. For instance, we have some information of people saying that Gadhafi himself was giving instructions. So if we can confirm this evidence, that will be enough to present this type of case as a crime against humanity -- as a widespread campaign of rapes."
Moreno-Ocampo said he was hoping the judge would soon issue an arrest warrant for Gadhafi. "And then the challenge will be to arrest him, because arresting him will be the end to these crimes," he said.
Rebel spokesman al-Kabeir, however, said some of the evidence of war crimes that prosecutors want to present in court has been destroyed by a rebel leader.
"There was a commander here at the eastern front in Misrata named Mohamed al-Halboos; he ordered all the (rebel) fighters to give him all the rape videos they find on Gadhafi soldiers' cell phones. I heard that he used to destroy every rape video he got," al-Kabeir said.
Asked why potential evidence of war crimes being carried out by pro-Gadhafi forces would be destroyed by rebel forces, he cited the heavy stigma that Libyan culture attaches to the victims of such crimes.
"Aside from being a heinous crime, rape is perceived here in our culture as damaging not only for the girl, but also the whole family," he said.
In fact, he added, rape is such a taboo here that some victims' families would rather erase potential evidence than risk living with the shame.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was "deeply concerned" over the reports of wide-scale rape in Libya.
"A thorough investigation of this matter is needed to bring perpetrators to justice," she said in a statement.
"Gadhafi's security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms."
NATO attacks help rebels in western Libya
Published 17 June 2011 01:00 1109 Views
NATO's bombardment of pro-Gaddafi forces continues. The alliance has been targeting government troops near the town of Kikla, about 150km southwest of Tripoli. Al Jazeera's James Bays has more

NATO helps Rebels
NATO pilots face high risks in Libya
Published 17 June 2011 08:38 304 Views
For the first time, Al Jazeera has filmed NATO helicopters operating in Libya. There a significant threat to every aircraft landing in Libya, a danger which became more apparent when surface to air missiles and launchers were found recently in the hands of a pro-Gaddafi cell hiding in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports on the high risk pilots face

Choppers at high risk in Libya

New explosions rock Libyan capital, other areas

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 16, 2011 -- Updated 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)

Choppers attacks continue.


Families split in Libya
Libyan troops shell western mountains
Published 15 June 2011 13:43 306 Views
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, shelled rebel positions in the Western Mountains, after rebels edged closer to the capital on three fronts. A rebel spokesman, called Kalefa, in the town of Nalut said on Wednesday that there were no casualties from the shelling. On Wednesday, the rebels said a NATO leaflet warning of helicopter strikes had prevented them from pushing towards the town of Zlitan, and had prompted some rebels to retreat from their newly-captured positions about 10km outside the city towards their base in Misrata, east 


Defniya Defence

Libyan rebels make fresh advances
Gains come as NATO bombs Tripoli, with strikes hitting eastern neighbourhoods of the capital city.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2011 03:40
Pro-democracy fighters have made fresh advances in both the east and the west of Libya, gaining ground against forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, reports say.
Late on Tuesday, NATO resumed bombing of the Libyan capital with strikes hitting the east of the city.
Libyan state TV said the bombings had struck military and civilian targets in Firnag, one of the biggest neighbourhoods in Tripoli, and Ain Zara. It said there were casualties.
In the west of the country, the fighters managed to force government troops into retreat from the town of Kikla, about 150km southwest of the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday, news agencies said.
Youssef Boudlal, a Reuters photographer, said that pro-Gaddafi forces had retreated to positions about 9km from the town of Kikla.
The rebels were in control of the town and were setting up defensive positions in case of a counterattack, Boudlal said.
And in the east, they launched more attacks against Gaddafi forces near the oil town of Brega, where fighting on Monday killed at least 25 fighters and wounded dozens more.
The wounded were transferred to a hospital in Ajdabiya, 160km south of Benghazi, the de facto capital of the rebels who have been fighting to overthrow Gaddafi since mid-February.
The rebels have spent months trying to seize the strategic oil hub of Brega, which would open the road to Sirte, the Libyan leader's home town, and from there to Tripoli.
Strategic town
Brega boasts an important oil refinery which, once operational, could supply the east of the country with much-needed fuel to produce electricity.

The push by the rebels came as the US House of Representatives voted to stop funding military operations in Libya.
Monday's motion still requires senate approval, but it shows a growing disapproval of US involvement in Libya.
A number of members of congress have expressed their dissatisfaction at Barack Obama's decision to go ahead with operations in Libya in March and to continue without congressional authorisation.
According to US law, the president must seek congressional authorisation to send US troops into combat and must withdraw the forces within 60 days if congress has not authorised the military action.
Shock for White House
Al Jazeera Patty Culhane, reporting from Manchester in New Hampshire state, said: "This is going to be a bit of a shock for Obama administration as the vote was so overwhelmingly against allowing him to use the fund in Libya."
The vote came came as Libyan troops fired several grad rockets from positions controlled by Gaddafi over the border into Tunisia, witnesses said.
No damage was done, but it could escalate tensions between the neighbours.
"At least five rockets fell on Tunisian soil today in the Mrabeh. It was a heavy bombardment from Gaddafi's side of the mountains," Mohammed Nagez, a local trader, said.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera's special coverage
Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the western town of Jadu, said that rebel fighters were in high spirits as they edged forward.
"We were in Zintan and it was clear, as we wandered around the town a few hours ago, that rebel fighters had taken over," our correspondent said.
Government forces posted a few miles east of Zintan fired Grad and Katyusha rockets at the town.
Battles were also being fought in the Berber mountains southwest of Tripoli, in nearby Yafran, and at Dafnia near Misurata, rebel sources said.

"الأطلسي" يؤكد توافر الوسائل الضرورية لمهمته في ليبيا
الثلاثاء 14 حزيران 2011
أكد حلف شمال الأطلسي "توافر الوسائل الضرورية للقيام بالمهمة في ليبيا على ما يرام"، رافضاً التأكيدات أنَّ "الوضع قد يصبح حرجاً إذا ما طال أمد العمليات".
وقالت المتحدثة باسم الحلف الأطلسي وانا لانغيسكو خلال مؤتمر صحافي عقدته في بروكسل: "ما زلنا نحافظ على وتيرة عمليات سريعة، ومن الواضح أنَّ لدى الحلف الوسائل لمواصلة الضغط على (الزعيم الليبي معمر) القذافي"، مضيفةً: "نعرف أنَّ ذلك يستغرق وقتاً"، وأشارت إلى أنَّ "الحلفاء وشركاؤهم يبحثون بعد الإجتماع الذي عقده وزراء الدفاع في الحلف الأطلسي الاسبوع الماضي كيفية تأمين الوسائل الضرورية بشكل افضل لانجاز هذه المهمة"، وتابعت: "كما قيل الأسبوع الماضي، فإنَّ الأمين العام (للاطلسي، اندرس فوغ راسموسن) واثق بأن الحلف سينتصر"

Rebels report advances in Libya's western mountains

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 13, 2011 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Rebels say they have freed al-Rayyana after a siege of nearly two months
  • Clinton urges the African Union to expel pro-Gadhafi diplomats
  • "Your words and actions could make the difference," Clinton says
  • She wants countries to "suspend the operations" of pro-Gadhafi embassies
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- As Washington urged African countries to reject the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, rebels reported progress Monday against government forces in western mountain cities.
After a siege of nearly two months, rebels have freed the city of Al-Rayyana, northeast of Zintan, said Talha Al-Jiwali, a rebel fighter. Nine rebels were killed, and 35 were wounded, he said.
Al-Jiwali said forces entering Al-Rayyana found that more than 20 residents had been killed, a number of the women had been raped, and the town's electricity and water had been cut.
In nearby Zawiet al-Baqool, just east of Zintan, 500 to 600 government forces retained control, but the fighting was ongoing, he said.
Al-Jiwali added that nearly 100 members of Gadhafi's forces were killed in the two cities and that rebels confiscated their vehicles and arms.
The reports of fighting came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged countries in Africa on Monday to kick out diplomats representing Gadhafi's government.
Clinton made the remarks at a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
She urged countries to "suspend the operations of Gadhafi's embassies in your countries," expel pro-Gadhafi diplomats and "increase contact and support" with the Transitional National Council, which represents the main opposition to Gadhafi's rule.
"Your words and actions could make the difference in bringing the situation finally to a close and allowing the people of Libya, on an inclusive basis, in a unified Libya, to get to work writing a constitution and rebuilding their country," she said.
A handful of countries, including France and Italy, have recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. A larger number have agreed to provide it financial support.
The United States views the council "as the legitimate interlocutor for the Libyan people during this interim period," Clinton said last week in the United Arab Emirates.
On Monday, the UAE notified Gadhafi's ambassador in that country that his diplomatic status there will expire in 72 hours, a diplomatic source in the country said. The UAE has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate Libyan government.
World powers beefed up financial and moral support for the Libyan opposition last week at an international coalition meeting aimed at charting the course of a post-Gadhafi Libya.
At that meeting, in the United Arab Emirates, Clinton announced an additional $26 million in U.S. aid for the victims of Libya's ongoing war. She also said time will be on the international coalition's side so long as Gadhafi faces sustained pressure.
Italy pledged up to $580 million to the Transitional National Council, which is facing a budget shortfall, to cover its expenses, but not weapons, Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari said.
Kuwait will donate the $180 million it promised in April for humanitarian needs, said Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al Salman al Sabah, the Gulf nation's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.


Chaos in Hospital close to the Front Line in Misrata.



Creating Weapons from Scrap.

Libyan rebel fighters suffer losses
Germany's endorsement of opposition council tempered by news of at least 25 deaths near the eastern city of Brega.
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2011 18:22
Rebels battling Gaddafi's forces estimate that up to 5,000 government troops are defending Brega [Reuters]
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have killed at least 25 anti-government fighters on the frontline between Ajdabiya and Brega in eastern Libya, according to rebel sources.
The rebels have spent months trying to seize the strategic oil hub of Brega, which would open the road to Sirte, the Libyan leader's home town, and from there to the capital Tripoli.
"Our men were tricked. Gaddafi's soldiers pretended to surrender, coming with a white flag, and then they fired on us," Mussa al-Mograbi, a rebel commander, told the AFP news agency on Monday.
Dozens more fighters were wounded and transferred to a hospital in Ajdabiya, 160km south of Benghazi, the de facto capital of rebels who have been fighting to overthrow Gaddafi since mid-February.
Brega boasts an important oil refinery which, once operational, could supply the east of the country with much-needed fuel to produce electricity.
French and British attack helicopters have been backing rebels by targeting positions of pro-Gaddafi forces in and around Brega since June 3.
Rebels, who refuse to specify how many fighters have joined their ranks, estimate that up to 5,000 loyalist troops are defending Brega.
Western advance
Battles between pro-democracy fighters and Gaddafi forces continued across the west of the country, as rebels said they were advancing towards Tripoli.
Rebel fighters said they were making gains towards Zlitan from the port city of Misurata - which is under their control. Zlitan is one of three towns separating Misurata from the capital Tripoli.
Battles were also being fought in the Berber mountains southwest of Tripoli, in nearby Yafran, and at Dafnia near Misurata, Libya's third city, rebel sources said.
An AFP correspondent said Gaddafi's forces pounded the outskirts of Zintan on Sunday, killing at least seven rebels and wounding 49.
Government forces posted a few miles east of Zintan, which remains under rebel control, fired Grad and Katyusha rockets at the town.
NATO, which has been bombing Gaddafi forces since late March, said it was taking "necessary action" to protect civilians.
"NATO is monitoring the situation closely and is taking necessary action to protect civilians," a statement by the Western alliance said.
"Along the north-west coast of Libya between Tripoli and the Tunisian border Libyans long tired of Gaddafi rule are challenging his legitimacy openly, and in doing so, are under threat of attack."
International support
On the diplomatic front, international support of the rebels grew on Monday with Germany becoming  the latest nation to endorse Libya's opposition.
The recognition, voiced by Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, on a visit to Benghazi is significant because Germany has been reluctant to be drawn into the Libyan conflict and opted out of NATO military action.
"We share the same goal - Libya without Gaddafi," Westerwelle announced in Benghazi after meeting members of the rebel Interim National Council (INC).
Countries that have recognised the INC include France, Italy, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
For her part, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, urged African leaders to follow suit and abandon Gaddafi.
"It has become clear that we are long past the time when he [Gaddafi] can remain in power," she said in a speech to the African Union at its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
"Your words and your actions could make the difference ... in ending this situation and allowing the people of Libya to get to work writing a constitution and rebuilding their country," she said.

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