Nafousa Mountain Libyans living in fear

The GuardianDiana Eltahawy is a researcher for Amnesty International. Currently she is in the quiet Tunisian border town of Dhehiba, which has seen an influx of refugees from Libya’s Western Mountains region. The largest refugee camp houses 1,207 people, mainly women and children. They come from places such as Nalout, Ifrin, Zentan, Kikla and Jadu. In late February, during the start of the uprising, this region declared its support for the oppositon Benghazi and they too came out in numbers to demonstrate against the regime. As a consequence, they have been under continuous siege by Gaddafi’s forces.

DhehibaPeople at the camp told us that they decided to flee their homes after Colonel al-Gaddafi’s forces intensified their shelling of the area in early April, though many had been already displaced from their homes in the Nafousa Mountain area and had been moving from one town to try and escape the attacks and fighting. Women whom we interviewed had been especially fearful at the prospect of their towns and villages being invaded by forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi because, they said, they had heard about threats of rape and abduction.

Families told Amnesty International that many local residents had disappeared and are believed to be held by Colonel al-Gaddafi’s forces. Victims particularly included people who had ventured outside the opposition strongholds in a search for petrol or basic necessities, both unavailable in the cities under siege. Since, there has been no news of the fate or whereabouts of many of them; others, however, have been shown on Libyan state television “confessing” to having been pressured to act against Libya’s “best interests”.

We met the relatives of several such victims of enforced disappearance but in all cases they insisted that we do not publicize their names for fear that this will place them in greater jeopardy and also put at risk other family members still in the Nafousa Mountain area.

One man said his elder brother, a 37-year-old father from Nalout, had not been seen since early March when he set out by car with another relative and a friend to travel from Nalout to Tigi, further south, to get spare parts for his vehicle. His family, understandably, became very worried when they did not return and started calling him continuously on his mobile phone. Eventually, he was able to pick up their call and replied hastily, saying: “ I am going to Tripoli, take care of the kids.” Since then his phone has been switched off. His family believe that he is being detained in Ain Zara Prison in Tripoli, but they have had no news or conformation of this from the Libyan authorities. His distraught brother showed us a video recording of the missing man waving the opposition flag during peaceful protests in Nalout, just days before his enforced disappearance.

In another case, a man in his fifties was driving from Ifrin to Gherian, a town under the control of al-Gaddafi forces, on 26 March in order to seek petrol when he was stopped at a military checkpoint. As he approached it, he called his wife on his mobile phone to tell her, but it was then quickly disconnected. His wife and five children have had no word from him or news of his whereabouts in the three weeks since then. Prior to his disappearance, he had been active in obtaining and distributing basic goods and supplies to families in Ifrin.

People who had fled from Zintan told similar stories. Relatives tolpd us of the case of a 37-year-old married man who was stopped by al-Gaddafi forces at a checkpoint in Gherian while driving home from Tripoli on 21 February. Since then, they have not been able to trace his whereabouts or find out why or in what conditions he is being held.

Read the full article here.

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25 Responses to Nafousa Mountain Libyans living in fear

  1. UKResident says:

    11:57 Al Jazeera English The UN is going to start distributing humanitarian aid in Libya’s capital, Tripoli…

    WHAT! Have the UN gone mad? NO such aid should be delivered to Tripoli UNTIL Gadaffi honours a ceasefire and WITHDRAWS his forces to barracks, the hundreds, perhaps thousands, he’s arrested are released, and the UN is able to deliver such aid to the people in ALL the cities/towns Gadaffi has been suppressing and destroying.

    If the UN is serious about delivering aid to Tripoli first then, IMHO, it is time to consider desbanding the UN!

  2. MishMash says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, something aint quite right. There is something real fishy going on between the UN, NATO and the madman of North Africa. There is no denying a deal has been done. When it comes to big oil, massive gold and currency reserves on the one hand, and world recession on the other, lives count for very little. Having been there for 42 years, the madman holds the key to a settlement, in terms of his friends (Russia, china, Turkey. African Union), his military capacity and brigades, his dreaded secret service spreading terror, his control of billions of dollars still in Libya … denying him that key is going to be difficult. He has spun a web of evil over 42 years that would appear to guarantees his survival. He is the epitome of evil as there ever was. I still cannot see him getting out of this one though, even though its going to take a long time

    • Libee 7zeen says:

      I share your concern, however, I am certain of the following verse.

      وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ ۚ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

      And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.
      Quran (8:30)

      • Alr3aee says:

        Or this ayah.

        Translation of the meaning of Surat Al-Baqarah verse 214:

        Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!

    • Alr3aee says:

      I disagree. The longer Bo Shafshoufa lives the longer this conflict continues; which isn’t to the benefit of the West.

      I think its a mix of internal politics, the US had to back out due to its own problems internally, and countries such as Turkey, maybe Germany as well, handicapping NATO. In terms of Turkey I figure they either want the TNC to acknowledge their contracts or have the man who signed those contracts retain power.

    • He’s a dead man……………….And he knows it…………..The people who have kept him empowered will kill him at the first opportunity.

  3. Libee 7zeen says:

    Can anyone guess what Qaddafi is doing right now?

    Guess 1:

    I think he might be sitting on a high chair and few Africans in front of him below who were ordered to shout “long live Qaddafi” and more pro Qaddafi slogans. And he is thinking in his mind: “these are my new Libyans” I am going to bring more Africans from Chad, Mali, Zimbabwi etc to love me….Hahahahhahaahhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (he is making an evil laugh)

    • Libee 7zeen says:

      I forget to mention that Qaddafi is throwing bananas at them while they are shouting.

      Any artist has the copy rights to draw this picture and spread it around.

      • The banana thing: the thing about your true racist is that they are rarely very creative. Hence the stupidity of their bigotry. It’s like the international community spending countless resources and indulging Gaddaffi to keep black people from being in Southen Europe. Now you have immigrants everywhere. Hmmmmmmmmmm
        You can offer them some form of slavery to stay and be part of the society, but racism and the fear that feeds it always hurts progress. What all the major players and thieves of this worldwide unrest fail to understand, is it’s global nature. They have created a worldwide crisis, and only forthright and purposeful policy can undo this mess. Unfortunately, their criminality has a culture, and they are as much slaves to it, as the people who just want to live productive and peaceful lives are trapped by them. But the world can no longer function as they operate outside the tolerances of the just. And as they continue to engage in their ignimonious pursuits, they will undo not only themselves, but the good name of their families and communities. It was said earlier, that Younis comes from a good family. How do his blatant attempts at exploitaion, and failure to provide good counsel reflect on his family now. And this can be said of most all of the major players in this debacle.
        “Have you killed your GADDFFI soldier today you racist a-sshole.”

        • Libee 7zeen says:

          We have to define racism first. We might also disagree on the definition of racism. We should be free to chose the definition we like – democracy.

          Second, I am sorry to say that the fact that the majority of mercenaries come from Africa, shows the lack of principles and values of these people. They are coming to Libya to kill North Africans for money. Libya was open for them to work and live and now they are helping Qaddafi to kill Libyans.

          I also should not generalize. I have yet to be proven wrong.

  4. Stan says:

    I’ve finally discovered what NATO’s big problem is now (other than the US not doing strikes). Britain and France are running out of precision bombs. And their planes are apparently not compatible with American bombs, of which there is an unlimited amount. So they are using what they have left carefully, eg blowing up munition dumps instead of single tanks.

    • Libee 7zeen says:


      • Stan says:

        By the way, your cartoon image of Qaddafi is pretty good, and funny.

      • Stan says:

        If you want a bit of an analysis of that article by a professional, it’s in this weblog, which is a very good daily description of NATO’s activities in Libya:

        • I read that assessment of the powers of NATO.
          It was pretty much known up front what the restrictions would be. The problem here goes back directly to the American govrnments insistence that there be some type of government in place in the west. All of the military and people undoubtedly do not support Gaddaffi, but they have an intimate knowledge of the people that the US has placed (Or vetted as they like to say), and they want know parts of them. This is the same process that Obama is using in place to absolutely ruin his adopted hometown of Chicago. The same process he is using to absolutely ruin his adopted home state of Illinois. The same process to ruin the credibility of the US. The same process to ruin the progress of the Middle East, the known free world. He’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and instead of taking his punishment like a man, he is trying to impose his obnoxious will on the whole free world. His latest statement is that he is trying to find Gaddaffi a place where he wont be extradited.
          That’s cowardly , and frankly insane.
          There is apparently the military know how in Misirata, to lead troops under fire. Even untrained troops. Younis just doesn’t seem to have a clue. The UN could ferry troops directly to Misirata and aoid th engagement on the Eastern road altogether. Saif used boats to flank early in the conflict, but somehow it is beyond all the great minds of the Eastern support system in the conflict. This isn’t a war, this is a massacre, and if the populations of the western ountries sit idly by and let them do it in Libya, you better believe, they’ll do it in their home countries………A murdering thief is a murdering thief……..

          • US Supporter says:

            Ok, I’m no blind following “Obama is Jesus” supporter but what the f..? The guy was one of the main people pushing for a UN intervention to save Benghazi from annihilation while the rest of the world was watching. He is still pledging (limited) US help despite our dying economy and the fact that helping in *another* Middle Eastern war is pretty much political suicide for him. Why the hate?

            Yes, last time we came in guns blazing into two nations and had world hatred pounced squarely on our heads (justifiably). So why is it that this time when we stay back and wait until our help is asked for by the rebels, intervene only after a UN resolution, and pass it off quickly to NATO to handle so we won’t be the leader is it still our fault and Obama’s war?

            You can’t have it both ways…

            I was proud when Obama pledged our aircraft to help Libyan rebels; and even prouder when – after the slaughter of Benghazi was averted – Obama handed our involvement off to NATO. This isn’t a US war, this is a conflict being handled (poorly) by the UN and NATO. Go complain about them and let us fix our broken economy and corrupt government in peace.

    • How is it that Gaddaffi has an ammo dumpevry 30 feet in the West of the country, but there are so few in the East………Younis is full of shyyyttttt.

      • Alr3aee says:

        Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me.

        Go open up Google Earth and look at Tripoli and Benghazi. Benghazi has 1 military base, Tripoli a dozen. Why? Because its the damn capital.

        • Cinnamonape says:

          At one point Benghazi was dual capitals with Tripoli…but Gadhaffi shifted everything from Benghazi as punishment for members of the clans there opposing his endless rule. This started a long period of decay in that city.

          In fact Gadhaffi spent vastly more on tiny Sirte (which he offered up as the new Capitol of Africa, trying to get the OAU headquarters shifted there) than taking care of basic services in Libya’s second most populous city. Sewage ran in the streets and into the lagoon near the once beautiful beach front, water supplies were contaminated with salt and possibly bacteria, roads were in ill repair, buildings decayed.

          He systematically removed almost all that could be targeted there, concentrating everything around Tripoli.

  5. Be aware many of the people “fighting” for Gadaffi are not being paid – they are doing it in fear for their lives and the lives of their families still living in parts of the country controlled by Gadaffi. Many people have been “taken” and many fear if they are seen to not support him their families will suffer. Others are paid but most of these are outsiders – the pro democracy fighters respect this and often why they get tricked by Gadaffi’s evil tactics. freedom will prevail and eventually people will see their opportunity and unite with the East..but it is in the difficult period at the moment with large parts of Tripoli and environs “under the guns” of Gadaffi… Tripolitania does NOT support Gadaffi – they are just afraid to stand up to him because of the duress, the East is free and why everybody can share their feelings more openly. Do not assume west libya is controlled only by “hired guns” – it is driven by fear – 41 years of this fear is difficult to rid… Gadaffi and his family need to be dragged into Green Square and shown to the people he is finished – not through courts but through elimination to demonstrate he will never return.

    This by Fadeel on the Aljezeera blog………Every adult man, every adult woman, has a decision to make. You cannot say, you feared the forces of evil would take the life of one of your family members, so you lobbed bombs indiscriminatey and toopk the lives of others. That type of behavior has passed it’s due date. What makes one life worth more than another. Have you killed a Gaddaffi Soldier today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This may be some type of cultural game that is played within the scope of Allah’s all seeing eye to the forces that control the company, but the young have had no say so, and have been subjected to unspeakable cruelty without just cause. Keep playing, and neither side will be able to find a rock to hide under. It’s not a game!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. BREAKING: Our revolutionaries managed to take large amounts of ammo and vehicles north of #Zintan after mercenaries fled the area #libya

    8 hours ago

    BREAKING: Also reports that the FreeLibyanArmy in #Nalut defeated a large Gaddafi mercenary brigade, in one of the army’s first missions
    Let’s go g…….the worlds turnin………

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