Pro al-Gaddafi forces left 19 detainees to die of suffocation while locked inside metal containers in the sweltering June heat in north-western Libya, Amnesty International has discovered.
Three survivors described how al-Gaddafi loyalists tortured them and then imprisoned them along with 26 others in two cramped cargo containers on 6 June at a construction site in al-Khums, 120 km east of Tripoli.
The detainees endured temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius and drank their own sweat and urine when the limited water supply ran out. Their captors shouted “rats, shut up”, ignoring their cries for help.
This is the first report of the June incident, because al-Khums was off-limits to independent reporting until it fell under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC) on 21 August.
“This is obviously appalling and inhumane treatment of a group of people who were mostly civilians,” said Diana Eltahawy, North Africa Researcher at Amnesty International, who is currently in Libya.
It is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill or torture prisoners.
Amnesty International’s team have examined the two metal containers used to hold the detainees in al-Khums. Once the doors were locked shut, the containers had no windows and the only ventilation came from dozens of bullet holes along the metal walls.
The larger container held 19 people, 10 of whom survived. Only one person emerged alive from the smaller container, which measured 2 metres by 6 metres and was used to hold 10 people. Some had been held at the site since 20 May.
CHOUCHA CAMP, Tunisia, March 16 (UNHCR) – With smooth features and a calm way about him, Abdullah Omar, 25, comes across as someone accustomed to hard choices. But the decision to send his one-year-old daughter back to war-ravaged Somalia, because he could not afford to support her, was one of the hardest he and his wife Khadija have ever faced.
That was five months ago. “There is not a night that goes by when I don’t lie awake thinking about my baby and worrying about her,” Khadija told me here at the windswept Choucha transit camp just inside Tunisia.
For the young Somali couple it was the most challenging in a series of ordeals that they have endured in the four years since they fled Somalia – from a 10-day truck journey with people smugglers across the Sahara to serving time in detention and being hounded by racist thugs in Tripoli. Continue reading Giving up your child to save her: a tale from Tunisia→
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