Libya Human and Political Development Forum
23 March 2003
The RH Tony Blair, MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Mr Blair,
Ref.: Proposed official visit to Libya and meeting with Colonel Gaddafi
Recent press reports have suggested that you are due to visit Libya this week and hold talks with Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi. In view of Gaddafi’s continued compliance with American and British demands regarding a number of important issues, the need to reward him in some way would seem quite understandable.
However, many victims of Gaddafi’s repressive and blatantly terrorist policies and crimes, will view such indecent haste to reconcile with vile dictators with a great deal of justifiable cynicism. These victims include many thousands of Libyan and non-Libyan fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and wives whose relatives were killed in cold blood, imprisoned, or disappeared without trace. Like the families of the victims of Lockerbie, IRA terrorism and the filmily of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, what these victims are seeking is justice.
You are no doubt aware that, despite all claims to the contrary, Libya remains today a country without a constitution; run by militias and ad hoc committees. Colonel Gaddafi’s grandiose schemes and rampant spending of Libya’s national wealth on political scheming and buying political support and international absolution, have landed the country in the most dire state of economic and social deprivation. The private sector has been decimated, and the country’s essential resources drained, and its integrity and national pride seriously undermined. The Gaddafi rule is marked by a sinister, improvised, erratic and non-transparent system that institutionalises and promotes repression, corruption and abuse of power.
The Gaddafi regime’s human rights record remains one of the most appalling in the world. In the last thirty-four years, Libya has seen more political prisoners, torture and executions (public and otherwise), and wider perversion of the judicial process than it had ever seen throughout its modern history.
Not only have these gross violations been noted and condemned over the years by major international human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but were also recently admitted by sections of the Libyan regime itself, not least the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, headed by Gaddafi’s son, Saif-ul-Islam.
More worrying is the institutionalisation of abuse and violation of human rights. Legislation, resolutions and by-laws have been passed by the highest authorities in the regime to perpetrate,
sanction and legalise such vile acts as collective punishment, torture, the physical liquidation of political opponents, the confiscation and appropriation of private property and businesses.
The political process in Libya is crippled, totally monopolised and dominated by ideological supporters of the regime. Dissent is repressed and mercilessly dealt with. Freedom of speech and press freedom are non-existent. Opponents and dissidents continue to be harassed and intimidated.
Colonel Gaddafi holds the key to any possible changes or reforms in Libya today. He must, therefore, be urged to act swiftly and decisively on the following important fronts:
1. The release of all political prisoners, as part of a general amnesty towards all opponents and dissidents. To provide information on all missing persons and offer just and adequate compensation to all victims and their families.
2. The abolition of the People’s Court and all special and/or extra-ordinary Revolutionary courts. The repeal of all legislation that lends legitimacy to extra-judicial practices, the abuse of power or violation of human rights.
3. The lifting of all restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom, and to protect the right of all Libyans to free speech, paving the way for open and constructive debate on the establishment of genuine and comprehensive reforms and democratisation.
4. The guarantee and protect the personal safety and civil liberties of all Libyans, and assure their freedom of movement, and their right to own and set up private enterprises, and to form NGOs and independent civil society associations and institutions.
5. To take all necessary steps to facilitate the safe return to their homeland of thousands of Libyan expatriates who have been living outside Libya since the late 1960s for political, economic, professional or other reasons.
During your visit, you will no doubt hear colonel Gaddafi’s and the official Libyan view of what is going on in the country. To balance that picture, we at the Libya Forum for Human and Political Development, request a meeting with you, at your convenience, to present the other side of the Libyan situation.
We look forward to your reply.
Libya Forum for Human and Political Development
P O Box 146, Horrow HA3 5ZJ, United Kingdom,
Fax: +44 (0)20 8424 0069