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Friday, 7 May, 2010

UN Watch Sponsored Event
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From left: Hillel Neuer - Executive Director of UN
Watch, Mohamed Eljahmi and Tom Melia - Deputy
Executive Director of Freedom House
Mohamed Eljahmi

Mohamed Eljahmi Address to the UN Press Corps and Diplomats,
Urging Them to Vote Against Libya's Candidacy to UN Human Rights Council

My name is Mohamed Eljahmi and I honored to be here with you.

Peaceful dissidents have positive impact on societies. The late Dr. Martin Luther King had a positive impact on American Society. In Libya though, peaceful dissidents face disappearance, jail, torture and murder.

My brother Fathi Eljahmi was murdered by the Qadhafi regime, because he publicly offered a program to help heal Libya and define its relationship with the world. He called for free speech, free enterprise, free press, a constitution, a government for the people and by the people and national reconciliation. Fathi was first imprisoned in October 2002 and was released on March 12, 2004 after then Senator Joseph Biden interceded on his behalf. He was rearrested on March 26, 2004 because he continued calling for democratic reform and government accountability.

Between March 26, 2004 and until his death on May 21, 2009, Fathi was held in mostly isolation. In a filthy prison hospital room and surrounded by guards. He was tortured and denied medications for advanced stage diabetes, blood pressure and heart condition. He was also denied family visitations, for two years we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. After Fathi slipped into a coma, he was transported out of Libya on May 6, 2009 to Amman, Jordan. Even as he laid comatose in an Amman hospital, the Libyan regime controlled access to my brother.

Fathi’s dead body was returned to Tripoli in the cargo hold of a commercial airplane - in the same day he died and without an autopsy. Now, contrast that with the hero welcome, which Libyan terrorist Abdel Baset Ali Al-Megrahi received in Tripoli last August. He is the man responsible for murdering 270 people over Lockerbie.

Fathi called for accountability. He called Mr. Qadhafi a war criminal and cited the dictator’s support for war criminals like Charles Taylor. Fathi publicly spoke of Mr. Qadhafi Messianic Megalomania. He said “All that is left for Qadhafi to do is hand us a prayer rug and ask us to pray only to him.”

Fathi’s is not the only case in Libya. There is a broad abuse of human rights and pervasive oppression against peaceful dissent. In Libya, belonging to or creating a political party or independent trade union are crimes punishable by death.

The Revolutionary Committees answer only to Mr. Qadhafi and function outside of the judiciary. They run hidden prisons, kidnap and murder regime critics with impunity.

The Abu Sleem prison massacre is a case that Fathi strongly and forcefully advocated for. Twelve hundred people were gunned down in the courtyard of the notorious prison south of Tripoli in 1996. This massacre was never properly investigated. And the Libyan regime took years to admit that something happened. For years the families were tricked into thinking their loved one are alive. They would drop off items of medicine and clothes for their loved ones, but the prison warden would force other prisoners to clean off names so he could sell the items at his personal store.

A mother of an Abu Sleem victim recounts how for years, she was sent on a wild goose chase by Libyan Security in search for her son. She recounts, “I traveled Libya from east to west and north to south asking where is my son?” Over a year ago Libyan Security quietly told the family, the son was killed in Abu Sleem.

Where was the UN Human Rights Council, when my brother was detained and tortured by Mr. Qadhafi’s regime? Where is the UN Human Rights Council when we continue to call for independent medical investigation for my brother’s death?

Where are the UN Human Rights Council and its predecessor the UN Human Rights Commission when the Libyan regime murdered 1200 political prisoners in Abu Sleem? The families are calling for an international investigation; don’t they deserve justice for the murder of their loved ones?

Where was the UN Human Rights Commission when former Libyan UN Ambassador Mansour Kikhia was kidnapped by Libyan Intelligence in 1993 from a Cairo hotel and then taken to Libya, where he was murdered?

Electing Libya to membership in the UN Human Rights Council is wrong. It provides legitimacy to Qadhafi, bruises the Council’s credibility and insults the Libyan people.

Thank you for your time and thank you for listening.

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