GENEVA – 13 September 2018: A seminar was held Thursday, on the sidelines of the 39th Session of the International Council for Human Rights in Geneva, on the Tawergha tragedy and Qatar's violations of Libya's sovereignty.
During the seminar, Serag Shabaan, lawyer of the victims residing in the Libyan city of Tawergha, revealed that the Libyan town suffered much humanitarian disasters since 2011, stating that the biggest disaster of all was the deliberate silence of the international community and human rights organizations in the face of the violence against the residents of the city.
As of 2011, Tawargha, a mere 38 kilometers from the city of Misrata—one of the main, if not the main, strong hold for Libyan ex-President Muammar Gaddafi, has become known as a ghost town after witnessing mass violence. The town came to witness gross violations on children, men, women and the elderly, in several forms from torture to murder to unlawful imprisonment at the hands of the armed militias backed by Qatar, explained Shabaan.
Shabaan has also pointed out, in a speech read on his behalf by Said Abdel Hafez, Chairperson of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue, during a seminar—chaired by Maya Morsi, President of the National Council of Women (NCW)—on the rights on women in Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain, “We only want the return of the people of Tawergha to their homes; we want them to be able to exercise their legitimate rights, guaranteed by international charters and conventions; and we want to call on the international community to stop Qatar and force it stop interfering by providing logistical support to the armed militias.”
Seminar in Geneva review Tawergha tragedy, Qatar's violations of Libya's sovereignty - Egypt Today
After delivering the speech, Abdel Hafez pointed out that the Forum wished for Shabaan to be present with them on this important day, describing him as one of the people of Tawergha and voice of the victims to international organizations and the international community. Shabaan took it upon himself to show the tragedy suffered by residents of Tawergha, expressed Abel Hafez.
In his own speech, Abdel Hafez spoke of the gross violations that occurred, saying, “Moreover, the forces continued in tracing all remaining populations and residents of the town in the whole country to the extent that being from Tawargha is considered a crime that should be escaped to be alive. After the incidents of May 2015 in the Libyan east those who refuge to Binghazi and Igadabya sighed deeply after the forces of “Al Karama (dignity)” process controlled most of the cities in the Libyan east and the residents of those eastern camps went to live in the educational institutions (schools) till they returned to their first camps.”
Then, according to Abdel Hafez, “there were official talks and negotiations (as described) between the local council of Misrata and local council of Tawargha so that who are not accompanied by suspicion could return to their residences in Tawargha; however, the harmed are to be compensated for the harms committed against them by Misrata.”
“The talks were supervised by the presidential council (the government of national reconciliation) and succeeded inside the conference room. As a result the presidential council committed to pay billions of dinars as compensations for the harmed in Misrata. So the presidential council yielded to the local council of Misrata and announced a date when Tawargha people could return to their town,” Abdel Hafez said, continuing, “Hence, in the referred to date many of the camps residents went to their town as promised, yet they were prevented by the forces of the presidential council to enter their town as the forces refused the return of Tawargha residents (to fulfill a promise they made to themselves that Tawargha residents will not back to their town). So the government of national reconciliation did not move any forward, but it condemned what happened and did not order criminal or disciplinary punishment against them. Consequently, the displaced remained in their camps affected by diseases, storms, snakes, scorpions and the poor cloths covered them. The situation is still the same till now.”
Seconding calls to ensure that the rights of those in Libya are protected, journalist Magdy Helmy stressed that the international community has stood idle in front of the atrocities taking place in Libya and that they have been silent—without an active voice, despite the dreadful human rights violations that are occurring systematically there against civilians.
Helmy also pointed out that the international community, especially Europe, are only concerned with the issue of illegal immigration, however, they tend to overlook, or perhaps ignore, human rights violations carried out on civilians and citizens in Libya.
Importantly, he also stressed that the conflict in Libya is no longer within the state borders and is no longer contains, suggested that it has extended from an internal conflict, causing threat within, to a threat to neighbouring states and the Mediterranean region. He went on to call on civil society to help put an end to this violence before it results in a major humanitarian disaster.
Seminar in Geneva review Tawergha tragedy, Qatar's violations of Libya's sovereignty - Egypt Today
In similar vein, Mahmoud Basouni, researcher and editor-in-chief of Mobtada website, said that terrorist organizations and groups have transformed Libya from a functioning, whole society to a one with deep divides and fragmentations; from a country to debris. This has enabled and led to a vicious cycle of violence against civilians.
“The clause no. 3 (W) of the General Assembly Decision no. 51/210, dated December 17, 1996, calls all states to take steps using all suitable internal direct and indirect means to stop and prohibit funding and supporting terrorists and terroristic organizations by charity, social or cultural organizations, in addition to organizations working in illegal activities such as illegal trafficking of weapons, drugs and money extortion, including the exploitation of some people for purposes of funding terroristic activities and thinking of, when necessary, approving organizational procedures to prevent the transactions of suspected funds as being transacted for terroristic acts and addressing these transactions,” said Basouni.
Basouni further pointed towards the existence of a strategy implemented by Qatar to support these organizations and exploit them to intervene in the Libyan affairs and to ensure that the divisions within the Libyan society continue to exist.
He also explained that Qatar has turned Libya into a center for harbouring and training terrorist, presenting a direct threat to Egypt, the region and southern Europe.
The issue is not simply in Libya, the issue seems to be Qatar’s attitude towards its neighbours, implies Basouni when he says, “Published by the center, the report entitled “Developing Inclusion Strategy in Syria” has revealed that Qatar provided support to extremists groups in Syria as it participated in 2015 in forming Al Fattah Army Group which included groups like Ahrar Al Sham and Al Nasra Front (which was affiliated to Al Qaida Organization).”
However, to Basouni, Qatar has always ignored the implementation of national decisions and international calls, “Qatar has long history in non-implementation of national decisions, the most prominent of which is the decision 2368 of 2017 in regard to Daaish Group, Al Qaida Organization and all people, groups and projects related to them. This decision highlights the necessity of taking procedures towards assets freezing, travel ban and embargo imposed on weapons. Also the decision defines the criteria of insertion in the list of people and entities related to these terroristic organizations and assures the importance of combating money laundering, terrorism funding and weapons spread.”
“Moreover, Qatar has not implement the national decision no. 2178 issued in September 2015 which prevents flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq across the Turkish lands, in addition to decision number 2170 regarding the elimination of sources of material, military and logistical support and fund for extremists especially Daaish Group and Al Nasra Front who detainees members in Syria admitted Qatar support to their activities,” continued Basouni during the seminar.
Basouni seemed disappointed at the idleness of the international community, where he said, “Till now the member states in the UN are negotiating about proposal of comprehensive convention in regard to international terrorism, while they actually had approved the UN International Strategy to Combat Terrorism in 8th September 2006. This convention is in a form of decision and work plan attached with a unique international instrument which – as mentioned – will strengthen the national, regional and international efforts that aim at combating terrorism.”
“The Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington calls the American administration to get help from all its bodies to stop the logistical and financial support gained by the terroristic groups in Syria from some countries such as Qatar and Turkey.”
Qatar violating of Libyan sovereignty from the beginning
On March 17, 2011, the UNSC passed Resolution 1973, authorizing member states to take “all necessary measures” to ensure the protection of “civilians and civilian-populated areas” (UNSC Doc. S/RES/1973, 2011). Thus, there was a legitimate U.N. resolution permitting intervention, which was enacted in direct response to the strong presumption that Gaddafi loyalists were going to massacre the people of Benghazi (UNSC Doc. S/RES/1973, 2011). However, on the same day that Resolution 1973 was passed, The Wall Street Journal reported: “Qatari flags fly[ing] prominently in rebel-held Benghazi.”
In addition, there is solid evidence that Qatar illegally intervened in Libya. Resolution 1973 clearly states that member states that intervene must keep in mind “Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter,” which affirms non-intervention in a sovereign state (United Nations, 1945). However, Qatari Chief of Staff, Major General Hamad Bin Ali, pointed out in an interview with Saudi state media (Al-Arabiya) October 26, 2011, “[Qataris] were among [Libyan rebels] and the numbers of Qatari on ground were hundreds in every region.”
In fact, in a Aguila Saleh Issa, a Libyan jurist, President of the Libyan House of Representatives since 5 August 2014 and representative of the town of Al Qubbah in Libya, confirmed during an interview with Asharq al-Awsat in March 2018, during his visit to Riyadh to met with Chairman of Saudi Shura Council Sheikh Abdullah al-Sheikh, that Qatar and Turkey have violated Libya's sovereignty and supported terrorist military factions.
“We wished our Qatari brothers had supported Libya, and were neutral.”
“The Speaker also accused Turkey of arming terrorist groups, the last of which was revealed in Greece trying to smuggle 29 containers full of weapons and explosives to Libya,” writes Asharq al-Awsat.