last update, June 15, 2012
Note Feb. 19: Amnesty International has taken its concerns in a stronger and more formal direction with a report issued in mid-February. My fairly cynical post on that is here. Below is the post outlining the concerns over endemic government militia torture across "Liberated" Libya leading up to the Amnesty report.
As Felix alerts me, and to be lazy, the BBC reported, Jan. 26, Held Libyans 'died after torture' says Amnesty International
Several people have died after being tortured by militias in Libyan detention centres, human rights group Amnesty International has said.
It claimed to have seen patients in Tripoli, Misrata and Gheryan with open wounds to their head, limbs and back.
Meanwhile, charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has suspended operations in Misrata after treating 115 patients with torture-related wounds.
The UN says it is concerned about the conditions in which patients are held.
Conditions. Concern. Humanitarian intervention? Perhaps not, this time.
Terrible things happen in Libya, in a Beeb report. Just where the loyalist sleeper cells responsible are coming from isn't explained. Confusingly, the video report, hosted by Gabriel Gatehouse, in fact suggests the NATO/rebels government militias now in control are doing these things. How strange! Surely a last dying echo of Gaddafi's own evil, sadly imprinted on them and to be worked out with time to heal...
The guy from MSF says they quit Misrata, where the Gaddafi regime always said rebels were torturing captured loyalists. They quit, he says, because the wounds they were being asked to treat were in between torture sessions, to keep the victims from dying as the abuse continued.
The report explains the problem is not just in Misrata, but nationwide. It's a wide nation that NATO just bombed these torturers into control of, by the way, with enthusiastic support from the BBC. As always for them, the problem is "militias," which need to brought under control of the more "responsible" central government whom they formally supported. But these conniving scum bags in Tripoli take every change to reiterate that they intend as full a lockout and purge as possible of however many loyalists or former loyalists remain. This reign of terror might well be their way, not an aberration to be fixed. It might be part-and-parcel with, inspeparable from, the Western-sponsored free-market revolution in Libya's leadership. Something's got to keep the green masses down for that to work.
In fact, whose decision was it to show these victims to human rights groups, or to involve MSF, when rebel doctors or no doctors could help so much more quietly? Did they intend to make sure these examples were published, for Libyans to read about, as clearly as heads on spikes? The message: "You wanna be caught being a resistance supporter, do you? Think again..."
Torture and lawlessness as Libya "victory high" ends
In Assabia, a different story was being told, in which residents not involved in the fighting were kidnapped and tortured, one to death, by Gharyan fighters.
"We are not Gaddafi supporters. Gharyan just want to legitimize their fight against us," said Ibrahim Mohammed, 23, who was covered head to toe in black and blue bruises which he says he got from beatings with metal chains in Gharyan. [...] his ankles were crushed in metal workshop clamps and that his finger and toe were smacked with metal bars. Blood seeped from under his fingernails during the interview.
"During my interrogations, I saw our main military commander in Gharyan lying on the floor in a pool of blood ... he was barely breathing and they had tied a metal pole to his arms and legs and were giving him electric shocks," Ibrahim said.
The body of this Assabia military commander, Ezzedine al-Ghool, was anonymously dropped at the Tripoli hospital where it was later collected by members of Assabia's city council, including Bashir al-Nwer, who says Gharyan fighters took the body to Tripoli to avoid escalating the conflict by returning the tortured body directly to Assabia.
Update Feb. 1
Thanks to Tawergha and Hurriya for this new development:
"Libya Rejects MSF torture allegations"
The aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last Thursday it had stopped its work in detention centres in the city of Misrata because its medical staff were being asked to patch up detainees mid-way through torture sessions so they could go back for more abuse.Meaning, they won't be tortured, right? He continued:
Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour bin Khayyal said it was not the policy of the ruling National Transitional Council, which has promised to make a break with Gaddafi-era practices and respect human rights, to use torture.
"Gaddafi's remnants committed actions that were an aggression to the revolution and to Libya and they will now receive the treatment they deserve," Khayyal told Reuters on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
"As a government, it is not our policy at all to commit torture because we, the Libyan people, suffered under these policies and we strongly reject it," Khayyal said.They can seemingly promise justice by torture to these captives, but not "as a government." Their proxies: "individuals," militias, special units, the cosmos and Allah himself, well that might just be who's making sure, systematically, that it's happening as promised and as the demonized devils deserve. The NTC does oppose torture of these human scum, and if they hear about it, they'll put an end to it. They haven't ever heard about it yet, despite the rest of the world hearing about it. They try their hardest, but find it very hard, perhaps, to hear certain things clearly these days...
"If there was torture, then it was not with the knowledge of the government or by the agreement of the government either. It may be actions by individuals, but we have not heard about the report you mention."
Sounds fair enough, right?
Then, a response more from the Misrata militia front line - they deserve worse than they're getting. Men captured in Sirte and elsewhere by Misrata fighters are gathered in a small jail journalists were taken to. Mansour Daw, onetime chief of Internal Security is there, captured with Gaddafi on Oct. 20. He's had no lawyer, no news, no family contact, illegally. But no outward sign or complaint of torture. “The living conditions here are not bad, given the crimes these men have committed," one jailer told the AFP.
One prisoner is a soldier of the Khamis Brigade, Ibrahim Sadeq Khalifa, captured in Tripoli. He has the same problems of isolation (it seems to be standard there), plus beatings he speaks of:
He was transferred on Sept. 5 to the Misrata prison after spending about two weeks with the ex-rebels, who he said beat him repeatedly.None of that happened in the Misrata prison, he implied, or had anything to do with his candid "confession" there to AFP that he took part in yet another version of the "Khamis Brigade shed massacre," claiming to have burned the captives alive, in contradiction to nearly all other accounts and common sense - how does a fire started Aug. 23 - or even Aug. 22 as Khalifa wrongly states - continue smoldering right through the 28th?
Although there were no glaring signs of torture, a scar was visible near his collar bone.
“It is from a cigarette burn. The thuwar (anti-Qaddafi revolutionaries) did that,” he said when probed by AFP, speaking hesitatingly as jailor Ibrahim Beatelmal approached.
Poor Khalifa's account and its problems are covered here, alongside another "confessed" killer in the same crime. Like the rest,these witnesses conflict with each other and with the rest, and with some more wholesome clues of the physical and temporal sorts, suggesting the rebels piled their own victims here and charred them blank before dozens of different stories somehow latched onto them.
But the "mass murder's" bizarre, apparently coerced story, plus lack of visible torture clues (aside from a cigarette burn), was presented by as the strongest case that there was no torture in Misrata at all. To illustrate this, in fact, seems to have been the main purpose of the exercise.
“If we wanted to torture these prisoners, Khalifa is the best candidate for that. He has burnt alive 150 men,” [guard Ibrahim] Beatelmal said, as he smoked a cigarette.And if he does, he might have to start cutting those faces. His name almost says in English "Beat 'em all." How appropriate.
“When he came to our prison he weighed 65 kilos. Now he is more than 80 kilos. That would not happen if you are tortured. I am angry at these human rights people. I don’t even want to see their faces.”
This devil confessed to something that was supremely evil, but that quite possibly never happened. Confessions are of things that are true, so we should refrain from calling this one. It's only a claim, another in a long line. People credit stories like this because they think "why confess to/claim something with the death penalty unless it's the truth? What lie is worth dying for?" Two options could explain it:
1) A deferred-sentence plea deal, life sentence or even early release instead of death in trade ... for what? The simple truth?
2) Death is the nice option, and it was made clear by his torturers that the choice was his to make.
Feb. 3: Thanks to Petri for the tip - Human Rights Watch has it documented and is calling for action: Libya: Diplomat Dies in Militia Custody
He used to be a diplomat in France. In late January he was summoned by the local authorities (Zintan brigades?), questioned about his loyalty, arrested, then dropped off dead in a Zintan hospital next morning. His body showed signs of pretty egregious torture - toenails were pulled off, for one.
Now what amazing stories did he come up with before his demise? Something that might blow the socks off Khalifa's story?
Also, an older report from September I just noticed:
Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 13
"Whatever is happening between the [former] government forces and the rebels, there are lots of people who are sabotaging and misusing the situation, and are taking advantage for revenge on each other," says a family member of non-Libyan man whose injuries at the hands of anti-Qaddafi forces have shocked the family and friends.
The man, who had worked for a former regime member who has since fled Libya, was handed over to pro-NTC fighters at a checkpoint. Relatives told the Monitor that he was subjected, for several hours, to electric shocks, severe beating, and threats that he would be killed if he did not confess to having weapons and his body would be thrown into the Mediterranean Sea where it would "never be found."
The man was eventually saved when a rebel intervened and vouched for him. The suspected Qaddafi supporter received apologies from the local officer. "They think that just because they have a gun, or they have contacts, they can have anyone picked up and torture them," says this family member.
And as long as they can torture the person into "admitting" he has a weapon, then all the torture is justified by his armed action against the new government. He can be punished for all the loyalist crimes that happened or that rebels say happened.
All isolated incidents! Bad apples, here and there, a lot of them. But there are some good apples too! They just don't get invited to the torture sessions...
Update Feb. 12:
An unusually critical piece from the UK Daily Mail reads almost like something targeted against the old government, except much better supported with facts. It covers MSF's allegations in a bit more details, and adds more on Amnesty's efforts, which seem sincere enough.
Amnesty International has documented thousands of cases of abuse and torture, and handed photographs to The Mail on Sunday. Senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera has protested to the National Transitional Council (NTC) without success.Of course there have been no investigations. They have to hear about something first, then be able to do anything about it next. If they can't do one, why bother with the other? Besides, the Misrotten rebels say it's they who are worried about a lack of accountability for crimes they suffered.
‘I have seen people who have been beaten with iron bars and rubber pipes, some hardly able to walk,’ she said.
‘Men are hung by handcuffs from a door frame and attacked with electric wires. Tasers are applied to their ears and genitals, and finger and toenails are torn out.’
She has evidence of 12 deaths. No investigations have been carried out by the authorities. ‘There is not a single case where anyone has been brought to justice,’ she said. ‘There is a total lack of accountability.’
Commander Mohamed al-Deaka is a former construction engineer. He was defensive about abuse by his men. ‘Yes it happens here, but it’s everywhere in Libya,’ he said.The rape part in particular - they find no admissions odd, since they know it happened. This in turn is due in large part to the famous "confession" of two Tawerghan teenagers, later found to be unreliable enough Amnesty called them out on it. That the rest aren't in agreement with that inconsistent batch of coerced nonsense is clearly frustrating, and the resort to torture to force confirmation totally understandable. (??!!)
‘We have to use force to make prisoners give answers. Our city [Misrata] was destroyed in the fighting. Now we want to know who carried out the destruction, who raped our women and stole our property."
Mainly the Mail article speaks of a video, posted three months ago by site contributor Tawergha. It shows a man from Tawergha (the town closed down by Misrata rebels) being tortured. It has information to go with it here, and screen grabs, courtesy of the directior of the "al-Fellah ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in a suburb of Tripoli." Here, Misrata brigades arrested a former shopkeeper named Saleh Barhoun Gersh, who had dressed in women's clothes as a disguise, it's said. He's injured and bleeding, shown being whipped and electrocuted with wires. His tormentors say, as translated:
‘You are from Towerga, you dog. You say you did nothing in Misrata, so why are you in disguise? We found weapons in every house in Towerga. Your hand is bleeding and we hope it is paralysed.’And they know that can't be true. How about all the weapons? It's not like they were threatened with an attack or anything to defend themselves against. These could only be for killing and raping in Misrata. Sadly, the article adds "It is not clear when the footage was taken or what happened to Mr Gersh." This suggests he never returned. He's either dead or in captivity with no acknowledgment, which is never good. Perhaps they got confirmation, finally, that those kids were right, and finally have a better reason yet to be sure all the other Tawerghans they harass, rape, arrest, torture, and kill will have deserved it. Updates May 19:
The men chant as they reach for live electric wires: ‘Everyone we catch is innocent, they say. ‘Well, blood will come from your eyes and nose until you admit what you have done. We’ve caught 60 of you so far and none of you did anything.’
NTC Prisons as the Answer
since pulled. Alternate source:http://af.reuters.com/article/libyaNews/idAFL1E8GAM1D20120510
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Several prisoners likely were tortured to death at a detention center in Libya under government control, the United Nations said on Thursday as it urged the country to make stamping out such practices a top priority. Libya's Justice Ministry has control of 31 detention centers with some 3,000 detainees, but about 4,000 prisoners are still in the custody of Libyan revolutionary brigades, U.N. special envoy for Libya Ian Martin told the U.N. Security Council. Of the detention centers under government authority, Martin said "control over these facilities is often shared with other parties, including the brigades that had been running them."
The U.N. human rights agency and aid groups have accused the brigades of torturing detainees, many of whom are sub-Saharan Africans suspected of fighting for the toppled government of Muammar Gaddafi during Libya's nine-month civil war.
"Mistreatment and torture of detainees continue," Martin said. "UNSMIL (the U.N. Mission in Libya) expressed deep concern regarding the deaths of three individuals at a detention center in Misrata ... under the authority of the Ministry of Interior."
"The deaths all occurred on April 13 and we have credible information that they were a direct result of torture, as well as information that at least seven other persons were tortured at the same facility," he said. ... Martin said allegations of torture had also been made at detention facilities elsewhere in Libya, including Tripoli, Zawiya and Zintan.
"Things They Don't Even Do In Israel"
Horrible stuff was reported by this Sirte native taken to Misrata after losing an arm and a leg in battle. The usual beatings and torture widely reported plus widespread rape (of male prisoners), cooking people alive, slicing people up, castrating, targeting loyalist officers and people named Muammar. This guy's story is extreme, but it also rings true in the delivery. There's enough info value it's worth its own post for further discussion/development. That's here.
Confronted with such tales of barbarity, a skeptic might argue this is all fabricated, some desparate pro-Gaddafi propaganda to get the world community to help turn back the "progress" made by the revolution. But the relevant elites will never play that game, even if it isn't a game. Green resistance should save it's breath for waterboarding if they're making things up. No one under the control structure is able to help them at all. A few do-gooders at the orgs who might care enough, kept well at arm-length by overwhelming militia force. In the space created, a medieval purge of body and mind is unfolding, as the West tacitly allows the rapid corrective surgery it knew would be required. The idea was always, with a few sanctions, some light bombing, etc., to bring reality in line with the fantasy of an "Arab Spring" groundswell there, to help "the Libyan people" realize their universal desire for change. It's those who chose to defy that tightly-scripted narrative that have been the problem, of whatever size, and the problem would have to be erased sooner or later. And we're hearing from ostensible direct witnesses to that erasure. And through them, we might have the true flavor of this second and longer phase of "the people's" movement for "liberation."
Audio and transcript here:
June15: More extreme torture I missed before (thanks, Hurriya)
An AP story of March, since pulled from almost all sources; One Chinese page that still has it:
At a Misrata garage that has been turned by militiamen into a makeshift prison, one detainee, Abdel-Qader Abdel-Nabi, shows what remains of his left hand: The fingers have been cut off in a ragged line about halfway down. Abdel-Nabi said militiamen lashed his hand with a horse whip until the fingers were severed.As for Hr. Abdel-Nabi did not speak anonymously. Has he suffered further retaliation? Is he dead? Missing half his right hand now too?
"Then they threw me bleeding down the stairs," he said. His interrogators were trying to get him to confess to working with Gadhafi’s forces during last year’s civil war and collaborating in the killing of rebel fighters.
Around 800 other detainees are held in the same facility, which militiamen allowed The Associated Press to visit. The detainees are accused of involvement in killings, torture, rape and other crimes under Gadhafi. There are no courts at the moment capable of addressing the suspicions, so the detainees are entirely at the mercy of militiamen.
Medics in a clinic set up in the garage said they have treated dozens tortured in interrogations. One medic said he had seen nine prisoners whose genitalia had been cut off, and others given electric shocks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation by the militiamen.