The fourteenth anniversary of the massacre of Abu Selim Prison
In June 29 1996, more than 1200 detainees at Abu Selim Prison, a notorious prison nearby Tripoli, Libya, were gunned down with machine guns by their jailers. They had been imprisoned on account of their opinions, their exercise of free speech, their words the Libyan government found objectionable.
This crime against humanity and against the Libyan people was done with knowledge and oversight by Muammar Qaddafi. Nothing of this magnitude would have happened without his approval.
To this date, no one knows what happened to the bodies, who actually gave the orders in the field to carry out the action, or the names of the people responsible for pulling the triggers. And no one knows to this date whether or where those executed are buried or where their remains are located.
For years, the families went to this prison in hope of seeing their loved ones, and for years they took clothing, food, and personal items to them. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Wives and children. Month after month, year after year, they went and gave over what comfort they could provide, believing that their gifts were being given to their loved ones. Although they were not allowed to communicate with their loved ones, the items they brought were always accepted by the jailers.
In the last few years after learning of this unbearably tragic event, these mothers, fathers, sisters and children, gathered in a small square in Benghazi, Libya every Saturday in solidarity, seeking knowledge about who slaughtered their love ones and where their remains had been taken. On many occasions, they were harassed by government officials. Their stories never got told by the government-controlled media.
It is only through the freedom of the internet and the courageous efforts of Libyan people able to post the photos and images and interviews of those seeking information about their loved ones, that they were able to relay information about this horrific and tragic event.
Now we call upon the international community and all human rights organization to investigate this Abu Selim massacre and help bring it to the attention of the world. The following assistance would be instrumental in the families’ efforts:
1. Handover the remains of all victims and allow their families and their love ones to bury them in accordance with Islamic law.
2. Provide information and full details of this crime and all responsible of gunning these prisoners.
3. Release all prisoners of conscience who are still behind bars in Libyan prisons.
On Saturday, June 26, 2010, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a group of Libyans and their friends will gather at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., to bring attention to this massacre and the 40 years of terror and tyranny wielded by Muammar Qaddafi against the Libyan people. We invite the press to participate, interview those who are gathered, and make this story known to the world.
The Committee to Commemorate Abu Selim prison massacre