January 29, 2012
Shortly after he visited the Khamis Brigade massacre shed, put on his "Dr. Salim Rajub" performance for the world's media (and helped the survivors put on their own), Dr. Salem al Farjani was hired by the interim NTC government. Perhaps specifically to repeat the feat more officially and nationwide, he was made co-chairman and sometimes acting chairman of the National Missing Persons Commission, dedicated to finding which of the dead and missing were Gaddafi regime victims. Judging by his performances so far, he will probably help find that all of them were.
Just when he took on this role is not entirely clear. But less than a month after his Rajub act, on September 25, he was speaking as a member of the government committee to prove the long-alleged regime atrocity of the "Abu Salim Prison massacre." He expressed certainty that the non-human bones found near the prison in August were of the alleged 1,270 victims (or "more than 1,700," as he rounded the number up).
(to be fixed-up later)
A recent Associated Press Article by Vanessa Gera, December 10, mentions al-Farjani's relevance in "liberated Libya." He's a big wheel in the NTC's search for the war's missing and unidentified, the anonymous corpses in mass graves, from both sides but especially rebel people, since Gaddafi loyalists were the evil killer side. In part, his job will likely be to put acceptable identities on the victims of massacres carried out by their own forces - disappearing loyalists, replacing them with more martyrs, made-up if need be, and more black paint for the past.
The governing National Transitional Council has founded a national commission to deal with the matter [of the thousands reported missing]. It is headed by al-Farjani, a cardiac surgeon, and a DNA specialist, Othman Abdul-Jalil [sic].The DNA part of this "National Missing Persons Commission" can be quite helpful if done right, and I have no cause to doubt the credibility of his co-chair, actually named Dr. Mohamed Othman. But something tells me this is added just to sound fancy and lend finality to decisions made in other ways, with a careful system of endemic sample mix-ups. True science will likely have little effect on the process, aside from the sheen of hard science.
Dr. Salem's audition for his part of the job, as Gera describes it, was an insurgency-long, life-and-family-endangering, one-man fact-finding mission. On about February 20, “bodies of protesters that were brought to his sprawling 1,200-bed Tripoli Medical Center were seized by Gadhafi forces before their families could recover them." This fiendish behavior has been widely alleged, but never well illustrated. The doc plans to change that, and has for nearly a year now been taking careful note of the cartoonish villainy, even going outside the hospital on "fact-finding missions to the sites of suspected massacres or mass graves." As Eddie noted, the good doctor has to have seen a lot of the same shady things we have - probable rebel crimes pinned transparently on the villified, whipping-boy regime. He doesn't seem to have noticed, if so.
The surgeon took down the names of as many slain fighters as he could before they were hauled off by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, presumably to be buried in mass graves. He concealed his files at home, hiding his activities even from his wife because of fears of retaliation by the regime.The Gera article notes how there is no firm estimate even of how many went missing, from both/all sides combined, during the course of this war the rebels started and NATO escalated.
Now the evidence he gathered is helping Libya’s new leadership as it intensifies a search for fighters who went missing in the war. The uncertainty over their fate is adding to the grievances in a land still traumatized by the dictator’s long rule and lingering tensions between those who supported him and revolutionary forces.
“We won’t have reconciliation in the country if we don’t take care of this,”al-Farjani said. “People are suffering. They want to know the fate of their loved ones.” [VG]
Al-Farjani believes there could be 25,000 people still missing -- though part of his mission is to confirm a more precise figure. International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo put the possible total at around 20,000. Many political and army leaders have refused to give estimates, saying it will take time to determine the scope of the problem.Al Arabiyah has this on the good doctor's reaction to the alleged discovery of the mass grave for the Abu Salim Prison probably fictitious massacre:
Salim al-Farjani, a member of the committee set up to identify the remains, appealed for international help.
“We call on foreign organizations and the international community to help us in this task of identifying the remains of more than 1,700 people,” said Farjani.
“We were invited to visit the place where the corpses of the prisoners at Abu Salim were found, where we saw scattered human bones,” he said.
Farjani also referred to “egregious acts committed against dead bodies, on which acid was poured to eliminate any evidence of this massacre.” [AA]I had wondered where the 1,270 (a highly suspect number itself) had become, as sometimes reported, 1,700 (or "more than" that). It seems our friend and detective Dr. Salem might be the origin. Last we heard, the bones seen on the surface were not human, per the only people there qualified to even guess, and it has still, to my knowledge, never been exhumed (see here for details).