United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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Public statements made by the Misrata thuwar

  1. The Commission notes that the Misratan thuwar have been open about their treatment of the Tawerghans. In one interview with the Commission, a thuwar said he thought that Tawerghans deserved “to be wiped off the face of the planet”.664

  2. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, an officer in charge of thuwar in Tawergha said, “we gave them thirty days to leave…We said if they didn’t go, they would be conquered and imprisoned. Every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back”.665 The same officer continued, “[t]he military council will decide what will happen to the buildings, But over our dead bodies will the Tawerghas return”, with another commander stating to the reporter, “Tawergha no longer exists.”666

Statements made by NTC and Libyan government officials

  1. Mamoud Jibril, then the NTC Prime Minister, in a speech at a public meeting in the Misrata town hall, was quoted as saying “Regarding Tawergha, my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misrata.”667

  2. In meetings with the First Deputy to the Prime Minister and the Adviser to the Prime Minister in January 2012, it was indicated to the Commission that the Libyan government was trying to resolve the “Tawergha problem” but had not yet been successful.668 The impasse was attributed, by those interviewed, to the crimes of rape they believed had solely been committed by Tawerghan men. Those interviewed appeared not to be aware that, according to the Commission’s investigations, confessions of rape from detained Tawerghan men had been elicited through use of torture (see chap. III, sect E).

  3. In its meeting with the Libyan Minister of the Interior, the Commission was informed the issue of Tawergha had “historical, cultural and political dimensions” and that most Tawerghans participated in the Qadhafi forces attack on Misrata.669 The Minister stated that the Tawergha forces committed rapes and killings in Misrata and indicated that while Libyans would forgive “blood crimes” they will never forgive “honour crimes”. The Minister indicated that “no force on earth can return people of Tawergha to their town under the current circumstances”, and suggested that the Libyan state resettle them elsewhere in Libya with proper educational, health care and other facilities.670

Targeting of the Mashashiya by Zintan thuwar

  1. The Mashashiya were, traditionally, nomadic shepherds from southern Libya. In the early 1970s, the Qadhafi Government reportedly relocated the Mashashiya to towns and villages to the south-east of the Nafusa Mountains in western Libya. This reportedly created tensions between the Mashashiya and other communities including the Zintan, the Khaleifa and the Kikla, members of which are of Arab and Amazigh descent, and who believe that land was effectively taken from them.671

  2. During the conflict, the Amazigh communities in the Nafusa Mountains and the Arab communities in Zintan were united in their belief that the Mashashiya uniformly supported the Qadhafi government. Thuwar from the Nafusa Mountains claim that Mashashiya towns, such as Oumer, Zawiyat-al-Bajoul and Awaniya, were used as bases from which Qadhafi forces shelled Zintan and surrounding villages.672 It is also alleged that the Mashashiya reneged on an agreement, made with the various tribes, that they would remain neutral during the conflict but instead allowed the Qadhafi forces to base in their towns.673 It remains unclear to the Commission, however, whether the Mashashiya consented to Qadhafi forces’ presence.

  3. Thuwar from Zintan reportedly entered Zawiyat-al-Bajoul in May 2011 and Awaniya in July 2011.674 It appears that many of the families living there had fled to Tripoli or Shgeiga, when fighting intensified and in anticipation of attacks. Those interviewed by the Commission stated that men in the towns were killed or detained. Mashashiya community leaders provided the Commission with lists of 20 killed, 13 injured or beaten and the names of 26 people who allegedly remain in detention in Zintan.675 The Commission is, however, unable to confirm the circumstances of all the deaths, but is aware of an 82 year old man shot by Zintan thuwar at home in Zawiyat al-Bajoul (see chap. III, sect. B).676 Further, the Commission has received other reports of Mashashiyans being extra-judicially executed by members of the Zintan thuwar.677

  4. The Commission was able to confirm reports that some Mashashiya detainees have been tortured by Zintan thuwar.678 One Mashashiyan, a former member of the Qadhafi forces, was arrested and taken to a detention centre in Zintan. There, according to his testimony to the Commission he was beaten by hand, plastic hoses, metal bars and wooden sticks all over his body and head. 679 At some point he was suspended by his tied hands to the door. He lost consciousness from the beatings. He was beaten four times and had his face hit against a glass window. The Commission observed that the man still had visible scars on his forehead several months after the beating. The same interviewee indicated he knew of other Mashashiyans who had been tortured while held in the detention centre in Zintan.

  5. Both Zawiyat-al-Bajoul and Awaniya were looted, with public and private properties ransacked and burnt.680 The Commission notes a newspaper’s description of Awaniya in July 2011. “The shops lining the highway in Awaniya were looted and are now littered with garbage. In some stores, even the shelves are missing. In the town itself, houses stand empty and ransacked, and some have been burned down. Other towns look similar. New houses are still burning days after the rebels took over, and trucks are removing anything that was overlooked during the initial looting: sacks of wheat as well as food and sheep. A piece of graffiti on the wall of an empty supermarket in Awaniya berates the ‘Mashashiya traitors’”.681

  6. Mashashiyans who have attempted to return to their homes, either to collect belongings or in an attempt to return permanently, have reportedly been beaten and/or denied passage at checkpoints manned by thuwar of Zintan.682

  7. In December 2011, thuwar of Zintan entered Shgeiga, a Mashashiya town, saying they were there to remove remaining pro-Qadhafi elements. They reportedly shelled the town leading to civilian casualties with confrontations continuing until the NTC stepped in two weeks later.683

  8. The Commission attempted to enter Awaniya in mid-January 2012. This provoked an angry reaction from a passing member of the Zintan Military Council and a refusal by the Military Council to allow entry based on an ostensible threat from Qadhafi supporters still remaining in the town.

  9. In late January 2012, the Commission again attempted to visit Oumer, Zawiyat-al-Bajoul and Awaniya to view the physical state of the towns. The Commission was prevented from driving through the town by a representative of the Zintan brigade on the grounds of continuing danger from Qadhafi supporters. Following discussions with the thuwar and officials on both occasions, it is the view of the Commission that the threat of alleged attack by Qadhafi supporters was not a credible reason for refusal. Nonetheless, damaged or burned stores and other structures could be seen from the main road in Awaniya. Graffiti was written on the town signs, including “Mashashiya - Qadhafi’s dogs”.

  10. Reconciliation attempts have, so far, been unsuccessful. According to testimony collected by the Commission, the common understanding of the mountain tribes that fought together to oust the Qadhafi government is that the Mashashiya cannot return unless they can prove that they own the land that they used to live on.684 The requirement that the Mashashiya prove ownership of their land appears to be linked to the historical context in which the Mashashiya came to live in western Libya.

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