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Libyan protestors abducted and shot upon, as ‘International Day of the Disappeared’ passes

Protesters took to the streets to complain about the deteriorating economic conditions and corruption. Photo:Reuters


Libyan protestors abducted and shot upon, as ‘International Day of the Disappeared’ passes


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | SEPTEMBER 1st 2020


Many have inexplicably disappeared over the course of the Libyan civil war, some mysteriously and with no apparent cause, others over the violence and aggression that came with the war. Many more, however, were found to be abducted by their own governments.

Thousands of lives had been claimed by the civil war, since the overthrowing force of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The number of the dead often overshadows the numbers of the missing, including those political dissidents who’d been “disappeared” by Gaddafi’s influence. With August 30, or the ‘International Day of the Disappeared’ having past, it’s important to consider the committed atrocities within the country, and the consequences of those atrocities on innocent human lives.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had recorded that around 44,000 people had gone missing across the African continent, and that at the time of their numerous disappearances, the majority of these were children. However, it’s suspected that the true figures may be much higher than this, given that the ICRC is only known to record missing people when they’re reported in by family members.

“I hardly sleep,” said Kaltum, from Nigeria, whose daughter had tragically gone missing nine years ago. “I feel it in my heart that my daughter is alive. I still have hope.”

At present, the ICRC estimates that around 1,600 people are missing in Libya. This is only through their family-reported system, however. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) on the other hand, states that the number of missing people in Libya is around 10,000. The ICMP seeks to keep track of as many missing persons cases as possible, regardless of familial reports. However, it’s still highly likely that the number may even surpass 10,000.

“This caseload is a drop in the ocean,” said the ICRC's regional adviser for the missing and their families in Africa, Sophie Marsac.

“All families of all missing persons have a right to justice. States are legally obliged to investigate the whereabouts of the missing and the circumstances of their disappearance in line with the rule of law,” Kathryne Bomberger, director-general of the ICMP told Al Jazeera. “Accounting for the missing is a moral obligation, but it is also - and this is crucial - a legal obligation.”

Investigation of disappearances is both an ethic, as well as a legal obligation for the state. While a high number of the disappearances are attributed to political rivalry, there are many more that could well have been caused by slavery, as well as human trafficking, most of which is thought to happen along the Libyan migration route that so many are known to disappear on.

On Sunday, the day of International Disappearance, large protests and crowds had gathered in Tripoli, and other cities in Western Libya to rally against corruption and the continuing economic detriment in the country, largely caused by poor handling of the civil war situation. Both these aspects have only worsened under the regulations brought down by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was during these protests when, according to human rights groups, armed men in military camouflage had shown up to disperse the crowds by firing upon them using deadly force, wielding assault rifles and truck-mounted machine guns. The country’s interior ministry accused “outlawed infiltrators” of these crimes.

“The Government of National Accord (GNA) has the responsibility to uphold the right to peaceful protest, protect protesters from those seeking to silence them with live ammunition and address the underlying issues that have led people to come out onto the streets,” said Amnesty International's deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, who went on to accuse the GNA of not reining in the “abusive, unaccountable militias and armed groups,” and instead “relying on them for security, law enforcement and fighting its rivals.”

At least six protestors had been abducted during this unlawful quelling of rallying people, all of whom Amnesty International had called for the release of. There remains to be a response yet, from the Libyan government, recognised by the United Nations. These six, unless released, may end up among the 10,000 others who’d been made to disappear within the country, against their own freewill and rights as human beings. The crisis remains astronomical, and the country may yet see more turmoil on the horizon lest its conflict sees some amnesty anytime soon.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2020