Benghazi, from sports city executions to abusing corpses

Benghazi, from sports city executions to abusing corpses

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LIBYAPROSPECT – Heba Mahmoud

One day in June 1984, the bodies of Al-Sadeq Al-Shwehdy and his fellows hanging over in the sports city in Benghazi, within hysterical chants by the affiliates of the revolutionary committees of Muammar Gaddafi and others were brought to celebrate the tragedy that brought to minds Graziani gallows and the Italian officers. Then, there was only one media channel go promote the cruel lesson with the modest technical capabilities, but it aired “the celebration” during Iftar time in Ramadan, that was enough to spread the horror, infect all elders and young with nausea and disgust. In March 2017, the affiliates of the armed forces of the Interim Government under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar were rushing in front of their cameras to take selfies with bodies after getting them out of the graves in Ganfouda area in Benghazi. The scene continued with hanging the dead over the commandos’ camp fences, making sarcastic comments on women bodies after stripping them, then shooting tied prisoners in the heads.

A report by Libya Al-Mostakbal website (translated here by LIBYAPROSPECT) said that between 1984 and 2017, through three decades and three years passed, Libya witnessed major shifts occur in Libya, enough for the only leader, revolutionary committees and their slogans “kill them leader” to get absent, but what happened in the last week in Ganfouda, early events in other locations, indicate that nothing has changed, and what is required, to stop the Holocaust, is much bigger than the disappearance of a leader, or replacement of “Jamahiriya” channel  with smartphones or digital media, much bigger than moving the theater from the sports hall to Ganfouda graves, or Huda Bin Amer of Gaddafi or Mahmud Al-Werfally of Haftar.

The events unfolded in Libya since 2011 proved that building upon ruins is the most complicated issue that could face revolutions. Across four decades, the political system in Libya witnessed systematic absenteeism process for all related to state institutions, no elected legislature authorities nor defined clear executive or judiciary authorities can independently perform their duties, or security agencies or professional army or civil society to pressure and prevent violations. The new structure for real social and historical reasons and other reasons related to elites spearheaded scenes or related to foreign interferences, wasn’t on the desired level. After six years of tug and pull, the security and political situation is getting more divided and disintegrated. Three parliaments and three governments vying for legitimacy, hundreds of brigades and armed conflicts with slogans differ between “revolutionaries” or “armed forces” or “army” or “chief of staff” or “general command” or “security and military chambers.”

Among that atmosphere, comes growing security lawlessness, the absence of controls, and accountability to open the door wide open for violations occur behind doors, inside cells and prisoners, before being carried in public in front of TV screens. That is exactly what happened in the bloodied Libyan situation when appeals of rights groups regarding illegal prisoners and slaughterhouses opened inside camps across Libya. Many observers were convinced that violations will spare no one and that “terrorist” and “terrorism” concepts are not enough justifications to bypass justice requirements, humanitarian, moral, social, and religious excess.

Silence prevailed for two or three days after the leakage of grave digging scenes and corpses desecration; accused factions found themselves forced to provide their part of the truth. Most comments and reactions by commanders of the “general commander of the armed forces” and the Interim Government and some members of the House of Representatives (HoR) focused on three justifications: first; denunciation, second; regarding the incidents individual acts, and third; claiming that victims carried out the same violations before.

There is no doubt that the accused factions found themselves in a tight spot, found it hard to convince public opinion using traditional justifications, especially with the quick spread of photos and videos via social media. Many civil rights advocates and observers say that denunciation statements don’t provide enough guarantees, if not accompanied with necessary investigations, nor effective unless implemented via strict independent structures, which seemingly not available in such incidents. Besides that, accused parties rushed to claim that all incidents are just individual acts that don’t reflect a particular orientation or systematic process by the military institution. On the other side, those who denounced such actions say that the provided justifications will not last longer in front of commandos’ commanders who, by themselves, shoot prisoners in the heads, nor in front of bodies desecration in the presence of known Dignity Operation leaders.

Military men and politicians’ official statements included hints that victims of recent Benghazi events are “terror elements,” and other hints to similar violations in the opponents’ camps in the west, in covert reference that such violations are legitimate with comparison rates. Such logic equals, as said by observers and rights advocates, both gangs and state institutions attitude, as the state should reserve to laws, not force.

Things become more dangerous when religious justifications are used to legitimize what happened as (eye for the eye, tooth for the tooth) when Quran verses and the says of the Prophet Mohamed are used to permit to violate human dignity and rights.