May 22, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
The American Libyan Freedom Alliance (ALFA) was founded in September, 2003, and registered in the State of Virginia. Its primary mission is to promote human rights and democracy in Libya through advocacy and education. We were particularly active in bringing attention to the Abuslim prison (located on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya) massacre of 1200 political prisoners, and to the fate of Fathi Eljahmi, who was jailed in Abuslim prison in 2002 after he called for free elections and self-determination for Libyans. Since then, Fathi Eljahmi has become a nationally/internationally known as uncompromising advocate of freedom and human rights, principles he continued to espouse under extremely harsh prison conditions until his recent death on May 21.
Prior to a visit to Libya by then-senator Biden and a planned meeting with Gaddafi, ALFA had contacted then-senator Biden and urged him to raise Fathi Eljahmi’s case with Gaddafi, and to ask for his release. Vice-President Biden had assured us that he would do so, and he did fulfill his pledge during his meeting with Gaddafi in early March 2004. As a result, Fathi Eljahmi was released briefly from jail, but returned to prison toward the end of March 2004. Since his last internment, Fathi Eljahmi was placed in solitary confinement, and denied family visits. As a result of his prolonged isolation and lack of medical attention, his health continued to deteriorate until he lapsed into a coma, and rushed to Amman, Jordan, ostensibly to receive medical attention, but in reality to die away from Gaddafi’s notorious prison of Abuslim. Fathi Eljahmi died on May 21, few days after he entered a medical center in Amman. The attending medical team questioned why Fathi Eljahmi had not received any medical attention prior to his coming to their hospital.
A second victim this month is Ali Mohamed Al Fakheri, who was captured and interrogated by U.S. officials in Afghanistan in late 2001. According to Human Rights Watch, he was "held in secret U.S. and Egyptian detention from late 2001 to at least 2005." Al Fakheri was then transported to Libya and locked up in Gaddafi’s notorious Abuslim prison, where he was subjected to torture at the hands of Gaddafi’s security agents, although the Libyan regime had claimed that he committed suicide earlier in May, 2009.
It is ironic that while Fathi Eljahmi languished in ill health at Abuslim prison, Gaddafi, was being introduced to the world community as a model for others to follow. Gaddafi was nominated as chairman of the African Union; his UN representative fills a seat at the UN Security Council; his representative at the UN Human Rights Commission is chairwoman Najat Al Hajjaji; A Libyan envoy is due to take up the presidency of the U.N general assembly; undoubtedly all those honors were paid for from the Libyan treasury. This clearly points out to a world, disastrously in a state of mismanagement and disarray, where advocates of morality and decency are put to death, and their killers are hailed as celebrities.
President Obama, we are asking you, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton to add your voices to ours and other human rights groups to ensure thorough investigation in the murders of Al Fakhri and Eljahmi, and all other crimes committed by the Libyan regime at Abuslim prison and other Libyan dungeons, and to force the criminals to stand trial in international courts. Vice President Biden had managed to gain Eljahmi a brief reprieve from jail, would he kindly work to secure justice for Fathi Eljahmi in his death?
Mohamed Bugaighis, Ph.D.
Chairman, American Libyan Freedom Alliance (ALFA)
Cc: Vice President Biden
Cc: Secretary Clinton