NTC government turning back the clock on women’s rights
By Derek Ford
October 29, 2011
The U.S. government and NATO countries used alleged human rights violations as a pretext for the war on Libya. These allegations were later proven false by numerous human rights groups, including Amnesty International. Now evidence has surfaced pointing to human rights violations committed by the pro-NATO Libyan rebels.
Human Rights Watch announced on Oct. 24 that they had discovered 53 decomposing bodies at a hotel in the city of Sirte, which rebels were using as a prison. Evidence indicates that many or all of the victims appear to have been summarily executed. Some of them had their hands tied behind their back, bullet holes were found in the ground and spent rifle shells were strewn about. Many were shot in the head. Several have already been identified as Gaddafi supporters.
The UK Defense Minister said that the mass killing may be a war crime but that it would be “virtually impossible” for Britain to investigate, although Britain, along with the United States, played an integral part in the war.
Quryna, a local newspaper in Sirte, reported on Oct. 26 that 267 bodies of Gaddafi supporters were buried in a mass grave. The story, which cited the Red Cross, said that the bodies were found throughout Sirte and its suburbs and had been buried by the NTC.
Just days before these gruesome discoveries, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated the imperialists’ line. He told the press at NATO headquarters in Brussels that “Our military forces prevented a massacre and saved countless lives.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Throughout the seven-month war, pro-NTC rebels were notoriously brutal. Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch, said that “This latest massacre seems part of a trend of killings, looting and other abuses committed by armed anti-Gaddafi fighters who consider themselves above the law.”
NTC attacks women’s rights
On Oct. 23, as Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the NATO-backed National Transition Council, was officially declaring Libya “liberated” he also announced that Libyan law will now be in accordance with sharia. While sharia law can be interpreted in various ways, Jalil singled out Libyan laws on divorce and marriage in his speech: “The law of divorce and marriage … This law is contrary to sharia and it is stopped.”
Previously in Libya, women were allowed to marry and divorce freely and polygamy was outlawed. After divorce, women left marriages with their previous assets, the family home and generally all joint assets. These practices will now be abolished and polygamy and secret marriages will be legalized.
This may be the first of many laws to turn back the clock on women’s rights in Libya. Under Moammar Gaddafi’s government, women were highly educated and well-represented in all occupations, including positions in the government. This is the liberation that NATO has brought to Libya.