last update June 7
Rape Victim or Threat to Libya?
I've covered Iman al-Obeidi only in passing at this blog so far, even though she's quite famous and important to most observers as the face of regime rape in Libya. My thinking is even if the rape allegations ganging up on Gaddafi are all disinformation, it really should have a better face than that. More evidence should exist, and it was to that I turned.
Her story is so crucial because of her powerful attention-grabbing entrance, among the more visually convenient moments of the propaganda war. She was detained for taking an allegation of a serious crime not to the proper authorities, but to the Rixos hotel, during a press conference. There, foreign media outlets hungrily took in her emotional account, note the bruises and marks that proved some type of abuse (rope marks around ankles, none around wrists), and photographed her unnerving arrest and removal.
The journalists' home nations were at the same time attacking, with high-tech bombs, Libya's government and system for any excuse that could be found. It's all but impossible to imagine a parallel situation where an American woman's words could have the kind of effect on the homeland that hers could on her own land in that context. I imagine the American Iman in that parallel universe would be dragged off and likely shot (it'd be a different country, really).
Both her initial reported gang rape by soldiers and her enthusiastic introduction to fame are covered widely elsewhere, but not well enough. I won't try to fix that, however, until I've been able to look closer.
But she was dragged away by sinister Gaddafi thugs before she was done telling all. Western journalists were duly skeptical of the government's story of where she was afterwards. They said jail and then a crisis shelter, standard for Libyan rape victims who suffer additional social stigma unknown to Americans. But surely she was locked away being brainwashed into recanting, tortured for the hell of it, raped again, or just plain dead. Silenced, one way or another, it was suspected.
But she re-appeared, and was able to speak with western media on numerous occasions and told the same story. She was allowed apparent freedom of movement, but spoke of threats all around - a certain man who gave her a certain look, and so on, sending subtle messages. Clearly, she hinted, and the press amplified, she was afraid for her life there under the government's gaze.
Meanwhile, the men she had accused prepared a counter-suit for libel. Con artists and the truly threatened - two classes of people who like to skip town.
She said she felt trapped, and she wasn't allowed to leave legally. But in early May, about six weeks after making her allegation to some very accepting foreign enemies, she fled easily enough to Tunisia, with a simple disguise and the help of an army traitor. This "hero" was probably hired by the rebel council (TNC) to bring her to Benghazi before the upcoming trial exposed her as a fraud.
From there, she wound up, reportedly with rebel help, in Doha Qatar, Arab capitol of rebel support.
A Rough Return Trip
For some reason, she was just now and to much protest all around shipped back to Libya. She landed in Benghazi, not Tripoli, but it was against her will, she says, and she was beaten up in the process.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday after she arrived in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, Ms. Obeidy said that she had been beaten, handcuffed and forced onto a Qatari military plane. A Libyan opposition activist who met Ms. Obeidy in Benghazi told CNN on Friday that she had a black eye, bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms. [source]Not only Gaddafi's thugs, but even Qatar's security forces can't keep their hands off this woman, even scratching at her like wild animals, it would seem. It must be some energy she exudes, but the protests have already come in that Qatar has abused her Human Rights
I doubt we've heard the last of that. Is it possible she beat herself up to hurl accusations against anyone who doesn't do things her way? Yes, if the trick had previously been used and rewarded. How long till the rebels currently protecting her allegedly toss her through a first-floor (open) window?
The UK Daily Fail says right out she was "sent BACK to Gaddafi," which would be right - she's got a libel trial to show up at and defend her possibly lying self. But that's not how it happened, and that's not why she was sent back.
Al-Obeidi was sent back, against her own will, international law, and even the wishes of the United States. As noted in a strangely-titled AFP article "US scores Qatar deportation of alleged Libyan rape victim."
US officials had repeatedly asked the Qatari government to allow Iman Obeidi to "travel with UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees) officials to a safe third country," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.Associated Press
"So we were disappointed at her forced return (to Libya), and we believe it's a breach of humanitarian norms," Toner said.
Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the United Nations' refugee organization, added that Al-Obeidi was a recognized refugee.If they're breaking the law for "no good reason" that's evident, trust that there's a good reason. You just can't see it, and should ask why. One site offers, as speculation, that since "Qatar has formally recognized the rebel regime in Benghazi," Qatar perhaps "thinks that this recognition means that it is OK to deport al-Obeidi to territory under control of a "legitimate" regime." But that just seems inadequate.
And she said there was not any 'good reason' why she was deported from Doha, where she sought refuge last month.
Human Rights Watch said 'this kind of deportation' was ilelegal under international law.
Besides the violation of will, emotional stress, etc. there's physical danger, some fear.
Asked if her life is at risk in opposition-held areas, [Mark] Toner replied: "It's difficult to say. We believe her life is clearly at risk in Libya... We've expressed our concern to the TNC that her security be looked at."What the hell? "Clearly in danger"" How is that clear? She lived in Tripoli itself, at the government's total mercy, for six weeks, always afraid for her safety and of being silenced, but allowed to complain of it endlessly to journalists, without once being killed. So she's paranoid. She wasn't even kept under control enough to prevent her flight abroad.
Now we're to be worried that some sleeper cell of Gaddafi loyalists inside Benghazi is going to do what? Kill her now after she's told the story a dozen times, had the world believed it, and has now discredited herself by accusing yet another government of serious abuse? There's no logical reason to do that or to suspect anyone of planning to do so. This threat might have finally defused itself.
The main danger to her life is the possible propaganda value such a ridiculous assassination would hold - she may risk a false-flag "silencing." It might provide enough push to finally topple the regime what killed that poor martyr for freedom. Barring that, the alleged sleeper cell attack could at least justify a bloody purge of fifth columnists within Benghazi.
Her hysterical energy and initial chutzpah has been recognized by the entrepreneurs at the TNC as an asset - and an abundant one. Expect a squeeze. Something spurred the Qataris to make this unpopular decision. Perhaps it was the advice of the foreign sinister Moussa Koussa, from Doha helping steer the war against Gaddafi.
Anyway, for whatever reason, someone in Qatar decided she'd be of most use in the war effort closer to such perceived dangers. If she winds up "silenced" by a loyalist attack, or just has an "attempt" made, please note that I called it.
Update June 5/7: That was short-lived. She's being sent to Malta, reportedly, along with her father this time, or perhaps to Italy, and thence onto Romania, as previously planned. Has a note of attempted, quiet finality to it. Perhaps the unexpected Qatari "beating" along with the flight was the last straw. Thank goodness. As you can see, that move was "weirding me out."