Chilling cruelty in Tripoli

Chilling accounts seem to be emerging from Libya every day at the moment. Today Amnesty has uncovered new evidence that forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi have killed several detainees who were being held in military camps in Tripoli earlier this week. The act of killing or torturing prisoners – is a war crime. Eyewitnesses have told Amnesty how loyalist troops used grenades and gunfire on scores of prisoners in one camp, while guards at the other shot dead five detainees they were holding in solitary confinement.  Some detainees who escaped from a military camp in Khilit al-Ferjan in south-western Tripoli described how, on the evening of 23 August, about 160 detainees began to flee the metal hangar they were being held in. Two guards had told them that the gates were unlocked.

As the detainees barged through the hangar gates, two other guards opened fire and threw five hand grenades at the group. It is unclear how many survived but to Amnesty International’s knowledge, at least 23 detainees managed to escape, including four who received medical treatment at a Tripoli hospital.

Meanwhile, yesterday as reported on BBC News Online, Amnesty delegates in Libya gathered powerful testimonies from survivors of abuse at the hands of both pro-Gaddafi soldiers and rebel forces, in and around the town of Az-Zawiya.

In an overcrowded cell, where some 125 people were held with barely enough room to sleep or move, a boy told Amnesty how he had responded to calls by al-Gaddafi’s government for volunteers to fight the opposition. He said, “when NATO bombed the camp around 14 August, those who survived fled. I threw my weapon on the ground, and asked for refuge in a home nearby. I told the owners what happened, and I think they called the revolutionaries [thuuwar], because they came shortly after.

"They shouted for me to surrender. I put my hands up in the air. They made me kneel on the ground and put my hands behind by head. Then one told me to get up. When I did, he shot me in the knee at close range. I fell on the ground, and they continued beating me with the back of their rifles all over my body and face.

"I had to get three stitches behind my left ear as a result. In detention, sometimes they still beat us and insult us, calling us killers.”

As more and more chilling accounts of grievous human rights abuses emerge from Libya it is painfully evident that the situation is at crisis point and that quickly justice and order has to be restored and perpetrators have to be held to account. 

To find out more on Amnesty’s work in the country, visit www.amnesty.org.uk/libya

 

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