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The Libyan Working Group
مجموعة العمل الليبي

Tuesday, 15 February, 2011

Libyan Working Group

Libya : Human Rights Report 2011

Prepared by : Omar Said al-Khatalli


A.  Libya has not had an official constitution for over 40 years.

 B.  Libya has been governed by a system where power is in the hands of a few elites. There is neither public discourse nor democratic elections.


  1. The Libyan government refers to itself as an Arab state and does not recognize the Amazigh (Berber), population. The Amazigh people and culture are discriminated against as evidenced in the following:

a.       The Amazigh language is not permitted to be taught in schools, used in media outlets nor used in any official communications.

b.      Amazigh music and festivals are prohibited.

c.       Geographical areas with historical Amazigh names have been renamed with Arab names. Examples; Adrar nafousa has been changed to Jabal el-gharbi or Zuara with Al-negat al Khams.

d.      School textbooks do not reference any history prior to the Arab immigration to North Africa.

e.      The Libyan government has refused since 2006 to allow the Amazigh to form The Libyan Center for Culture and Human Rights.

f.        The circulation of any Amazigh literature, especially books, magazines, music CDs and any publications that were printed inside or outside of Libya is prohibited

  1. Over the course of his 41 years in power, Libyan president Qaddafi has exhibited a demeaning and hateful stance in his dealings with the Amazigh.  Examples of this behavior include the following:

a.       Qaddafi’s regime has frequently called publicly for the violent recourse against the Amazigh. In one instance, President Qaddafi called for the immediate cancellation of an Amazigh New Year celebration, granting the use of force to ensure it did not occur.

b.      He has publicly lobbied for the total shutdown of Amazigh media outlets based in Morocco, Algeria and Europe.

c.       The Tamazight Language (language of the Amazigh people), is not permitted in print or multimedia productions in Libya.

  1. There are currently two Libyan laws that are restrictive against all people of non-Arab culture, including, but not limited to, the Amazigh.

a.       Law number 7, section 21 of civil Laws of 1998 states: In order to be a citizen with enjoyment of civil liberties, one must carry an Arab and/ or a Muslim name.

b.      Law number 24 of 2001 forbids the use of any language other than Arabic in official matters.

  1. The touareg, from the Saharan desert, and Tebu, from the south of Libya, are forbidden from accessing official government documents that prove their citizenship and nationality.  As a result, families do not have access to basic medical care and children are forced out of school.  Tebu woman are not permitted to give birth in Libyan hospitals; resulting complications and disease that would be resolved with access to care instead result in death or long term impairment of both mothers and children.  Many documents are available on this case.

  1. Libyan women, regardless of ethnicity, are deprived of many basic civil rights.  They are not treated as equals with male counterparts in the workplace, with both cultural and religious reasons cited as rationale.


A.      There is no freedom of the press in Libya; all published or broadcast media is controlled and monitored by government officials, government agencies and Qaddafi’s children, most notably Seif al-Islam.  Libyan papers such as Al Shames, Quryna and Oea represent only the viewpoint of the incumbent government and frequently launch attacks at the opposition within the country and abroad.

B.      The right to form a union, professional association or any other working group is prohibited by law, unless approved by and under surveillance of governmental security agencies.

C.      The right to protest and demonstrate peacefully is prohibited by law.


A.      The constant imprisonment of political activist Jamal Al Haji. Mr. Al Haji has written numerous papers from inside Libya calling for political reform, democratic change and more freedom in Libya.

B.      60 young men from the Amazigh city of Zuara were arrested in the summer of 2009. Requests as to their whereabouts are unanswered.

C.      The 2009 publication of a calendar in the Amazigh language resulted in the mass arrest of young  men from the Amazigh city of Kabaw.

D.      Libyan citizen Ali Abousaud was arrested without cause on 8-29-2010. He was detained and questioned for 8 days on his involvement in Amazigh cultural activity.

E.       The homes of Amazigh activist, including Mr. Salem madi, are frequently attacked. Videos of such attacks can be found  on YouTube by clicking on this link:

F.       Amazigh activist Moamer Isahg Werfelli has been deprived of his Libyan passport and placed under a travel ban since 2006. In the past 2 years he has been arrested and questioned a number of times on his writings and his support for the Amazigh cause.

G.     Libyan political activist, Fathi Ben-Khalifa and his children have been deprived of their passports.  He is currently living in the Netherlands under political asylum. He has been living in Morocco but moved to the Netherlands following pressure from Libyan authorities on the Moroccan government to either extradite him to Libya or expel him from Morocco.  Authorities in the Netherlands have placed Mr. Ben-Khalifa under protection due to death threats being made against him following the Libyan Fifth Annual Amazigh conference in December 2010, which was held in Brussels, Belgium.

H.      Singer Ali Fates was forced to flee Libya after having been subjected to government pressure to not sing in the Tamazight language. Ali is a well known singer amongst the Amazigh youth in Libya. In 2010 Ali was granted political asylum in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


A.      Mazigh and Madghis Bozaghar are 30 year old brothers from the Amazigh city of Yefren.  Both are engineers by profession.  Neither has a history of political work, although both are considered experts in the Tamazight language and strong advocates of the Amazigh culture.  They were contact by Mauri Simoni, an Italian researcher with a strong interest in the Libyan History.

Following contact between the brother and Simoni, all three were arrested on December 16, 2010.  The Bozaghar brothers’ home library and personal computers were confiscated by the Libyan security agency.  Mr. Simoni was detained and released on December 24, 2010.  The Libyan security agency released an official statement on January 10, 2011 that both brothers are accused of espionage and spying for foreign intelligence agencies including the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.  The brother’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

The Libyan government is very nervous and suspicious of any foreign contacts in the Amazigh areas of Libya.  It is worth noting that Mr. Luke Reynolds, a political officer at the American Embassy in Tripoli was expelled from the country in November of 2010 following a visit to the city of yefren.

International Human Rights Group, Amnesty International, has issued a report on this incident.  It can be found on their website under index number MDE 19/001/2001.  Regional and international newspapers, including Italian Corriere Della Sera, Runita and La Republica, have reported on this incident.  The case is of great concern and the Libyan Working Group appeals to all those that can assist in providing any media exposure to this case to contact us.

B.      Izzat Al Maqrif was born in Benghazi, Libya in 1952.  On the evening of March 12, 1990, during a stay in Egypt, Al-Maqrif was taken for questioning by Colonel Mohamed Hassan of the Egyptian Security Agency.  His colleague, jaballah Matar was also taken for questioning. Neither has been seen since.

In September of 2009, Al-Maqrif’s family received a letter dated two years after his disappearance, written in his distinct handwriting.  The letter detailed his kidnapping by the Egyptian Security Agency and his subsequent transfer to Libyan Intelligence.  Individuals in both the Egyptian Security Agency and Libyan Intelligence are specifically named as involved in this kidnapping.

Two former prisoners of Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison have recently some forward as willing to testify that they saw Izzat Al-Maqrif imprisoned in Abu Salim prison.  They have provided details including a cell number and the names of the prison guards assigned to Al-Maqrif at that time.  The current whereabouts of Al-maqrif and Matar are not known.


  1. Fathi Eljahmi was a civil engineer, an entrepreneur, a former governor of the Gulf province and former chairman of the Libyan National Planning Committee.  Eljahmi was first imprisoned on October 22, 2002 because he presented to the Basic People’s Congress a vision for healing Libya and re-defining its relationship with the outside world.  He called for the creation of a constitution, a civil society, for free speech, for free enterprise, for investigations into the Abu Salim prison massacre, the war in Chad and the Lockerbie bombing.  He called on Qaddafi to show sincerity to his own people.

Mr. Eljahmi was released on March 12, 2004 thanks to the intervention of U.S. politicians, among them then Senator Joe Biden, who is now the US Vice President. He refused to be silenced and continued his call for freedom and human rights. On March 26, 2004, he was abducted by Libyan Security and held until his death on May 21, 2009. During those five years of imprisonment, he endured intense torture, isolation and slow death. He was kept away from his family for nearly two years. He was shackled in a windowless room without sunlight and served food that was not fit for human consumption. For two years, he was deprived of medications for hypertension, advanced stage diabetes and a heart condition.

  1. Daif Al-Ghazal was an outspoken critic of the Libyan regime. Prior to his death, he had written many articles from inside Libya criticizing the regime's corrupt and dictatorial ways. He was found dead on the side of the road in Libya with his eyes poked, body mutilated and his fingers broken to set an example to anyone who dares lift a pen against the Libyan regime. He was killed in June of 2005.

  1. Mansur Kikhia was Libya’s foreign minister and ambassador to the UN, but, as a human rights activist, he grew disgusted with Qaddafi’s repressive rule.  In 1980, Kikhia defected to the United States.  In late 1993, he travelled to Cairo to attend an Arab human rights summit.  On December 10, 1993, a day that the UN has designated as human rights day, Kikhia was kidnapped by Egyptian agents from his Cairo hotel.  The Egyptians handed Kikhia over to the Libyan regime. Kikhia’s fate has been unknown, and no news of his whereabouts.  At the time of his disappearance Kikhia was a US resident and married to a US citizen.

  1. Omar El name was an Oxford scholar and a poet.  He was one of Libya’s brightest. An Amazigh from the city of Nalut.  He was jailed by Qaddafi’s regime on numerous occasions for his pro democracy writings. The last time he was arrested was in 1981 and was never seen after. His fate is unknown, but many reports from Libya indicate that he was killed inside his prison cell. His body was never released to his family.

  1. Over 1200 unarmed political prisoners being held at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison were shot to death in June, 1996.  Some of the victims were as young as 17.  The massacre took place in a period of less than 4 hours.  This is a well documented crime against humanity and all fingers of responsibility point to Qaddafi, and his security right hand man Abdullah Al-Sansui.

In 2009, Qaddafi regime promised an investigation into this massacre; at the time of this report, there has been no news of this investigation.  Families of the victims were told of their loved ones’ deaths, but bodies were never released to the victim’s families for a proper burial.  Death certificates have never been issued.

F.       Adel Mohammed Abouali was a Libyan citizen living in Sweden.  His political asylum request in Sweden was denied in 2008 and he was deported to Libya to face death.  At the time no charges were pending against him. Abouali’s family reported that communication from him ceased upon his return to Libyan officials.  Swedish immigration officials confirm that Abouali died in Libyan custody but a cause of death was never established.

G.     Ahmed Ajelwal was pronounced dead inside the headquarters of Libya’s internal security offices in Tripoli. Mr. Ajelwal was arrested on 11-15-2009 as he was boarding a plane heading to England. Cause of death torture. He was an Amazigh with no prior history of violence.

H.      Mohamed Ahemrani was killed in a planned car accident on 11-18-2009. He was an active member of the World Amazigh Congress headquarter in Paris, France. A few months prior to his death he was threatened to either cease his Amazigh activity or face the possibility of being executed.

I.        Bas Idawel Enas was a film producer.  Eye-witnesses report that during filming of a documentary on the welfare of his people (the Tuaregu), at the Al-Tayori camp in the Libyan Desert, Enas was arrested on February 27, 2009 in the city of Sebha.  He was reported dead by Libyan authorities on November 20, 2009.  His death certificate did not specify the cause of death and no autopsy was permitted.

The late Enas was arrested with his colleague, Akli Bessada, who has managed to escape prison and flee Libya aboard a ship to England.  At the moment Bessada has applied for political refugee status in England. 

The Libyan government does not respond to nor follow up on any requests from Libyan human rights groups on reported violations in Libya. 

Libyan Working Group welcomes your support and assistance in educating the world, American public, media, and human rights organizations of all human rights abuses in Libya. Libyan Working Group is a regular participant in UN Human Rights Conferences in Switzerland, as well as in many Human Rights organizations in North Africa and Europe. We urge the media and pro-democracy political establishment in the United States and the rest of the world, to help us bring to light the many abuses that take place in Libya. 

We hope and strive for a democratic and a constitutional government in Libya that guarantees equality to all its citizens

Libyan Working Group - P.O Box 1113, Kennesaw Georgia, USA 30156-1113

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