UN Watch Launches Global Campaign to Oust
Qaddafi Regime from UN Human Rights Council
Geneva, September 16 – Only days after Libya took its seat for the first time as a newly elected member of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch today launched a global campaign to remove it, bringing some of the world’s most well-known victims of Libyan crimes to testify before the assembly of country representatives.
Bulgarian nurse Kristyana Valchyeva and Palestinian doctor Ashraf El Hagoug took the floor to speak about their suffering as medical workers in Libya who were framed, imprisoned and tortured over false charges of infecting 400 children with HIV.
Speaking on behalf of Freedom House and UN Watch, the two were repeatedly interrupted by the Libyan delegate, who attempted to stop their testimony by making vociferous objections which were then echoed by speakers from Iran, China, Cuba and Venezuela.
However, the United States representative rallied to the defense of UN Watch’s witnesses, insisting on their right to speak freely, as did Belgium for the European Union, Britain, and Ireland.
As a result, amid heated exchanges between the repressive regimes and the democratic alliance, the president of the council, Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand, eventually allowed UN Watch’s invited victims to complete their testimony.
In addition, UN Watch today organized a press conference and a NGO panel, featuring the two torture victims together with Bob Monetti of the Pan Am 103 Victims Association, and Mohamed El Jahmi, brother of the late Libyan dissident Fathi El Jahmi — both of whom are scheduled to testify tomorrow before the plenary.
At the events, UN Watch released the appeal signed by 27 NGOs. The campaign invokes Article 8 of the council charter allowing for suspension of member states that commit systematic violations of human rights.
From today’s protest campaign:
- Joint Appeal to Remove Libya Signed by 27 NGOs
“The election of the Libyan Arab Jamahariya to the UN Human Rights Council is an outrage to the global human rights community. Given its notorious record as one of the world’s worst violators of human rights, the Qaddafi regime’s membership on the Council flies in the face of the United Nations’ promise, enshrined in Resolution 60/251 (2006), to elect member states that are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.” Read more
- Voice of America Reports on UN Watch Campaign
“An overwhelming majority of U.N. member states elected Libya to the 47-member Council in May. U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer calls this an outrage. He says it sends the wrong message to what he calls the victims of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.” Read more
- U.S. Senator Robert Menendez Issues Statement Supporting UN Watch Campaign
“I hope the U.N. Human Rights Council listens to witnesses like Robert Monetti, a New Jerseyan who lost his son on that ill-fated flight, and ceases to include representatives in this body that do not have a history and tradition of respect for life and human rights.” Read more
- Bulgarian Nurse Testifies to Council on Her Brutal Torture by Libya
“They tried to destroy us physically, mentally and morally. We were hostages for eight and a half years. We have never received an apology or compensation for our suffering. Mr. President, I ask: When will this Council take action to end impunity?” Read more
- Palestinian Doctor Challenges Council on Including Libya
“Our trials were seriously flawed. The confessions obtained by torture were used and admitted in court against us. Evidence by experts on HIV was disregarded by the Libyan courts. Mr. President, in the name of universal human rights, how can Libya be elected a member of the Human Rights Council?” Read more
- Pan Am 103 Victim: Bob Monetti, Father of Slain American Student, Outraged at UN Election of Qaddafi
“As long as Qaddafi sits on all that oil, he can do whatever he pleases and get away with it. There’s no morality in politics. World politics is about business, and in Libya, business is about oil… Why ever would the U.N. let Qaddafi judge other countries’ human rights records?” Read more
A global coalition of human rights groups is launching a campaign to remove Libya from the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council.
A coalition of 27 non-government human rights groups, joined by victims of Libyan human rights violations, are protesting the membership of what they call one of the world’s worst human rights violators in the U.N. body that is supposed to uphold and protect the rights of people around the world.
Human rights observers agree with Palestinian physician Ashraf El Hajouj who says that he and five Bulgarian nurses were framed, imprisoned and tortured in Libya for almost nine years on false charges of poisoning children with HIV. “Actually, we are the victims, the hidden victims of the Pan Am 103 [bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988] because the two cases – the HIV case and the Pan Am case – were going in the parallel way and almost all the politicians, they were denying this connection,” El Hajouj said.
El Hajouj questions the real motive behind the release of the Lockerbie bomber from prison last year on compassionate grounds. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was freed because he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given three months to live. He now resides in Libya.
Lockerbie Victims Association member Bob Monetti also questions al-Megrahi’s early release. His 20-year-old son, Rick, was one of 270 people killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
He says he knows al-Megrahi did not act alone, but that his guilt was proven and his conviction was correct.
“In 2003, Libya finally accepted responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am 103 and a letter was sent to the United Nations. Hearing that Libya was responsible for the bombing and knowing that at least one murderer was in jail in Scotland gave some consolation and some sort of closure to the victims. The compassionate release last year by the Scots and the circus that followed ended that with a thud,” Monetti said.
The groups campaigning to oust Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council are angry that the United Nations has given no official reaction to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
An overwhelming majority of U.N. member states elected Libya to the 47-member Council in May.
U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer calls this an outrage. He says it sends the wrong message to what he calls the victims of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
“Number one, we refuse to accept this result and number two, the procedure allows it,” Neuer said. “The procedure says Article 8 of the Resolution of 2006 that governs the Human Rights Council provides that a country that systematically violates human rights can be suspended.”
Two-thirds of the 47 members on the council need to vote to remove Libya from the forum. Neuer says this is unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, he says the campaign will continue.