Death of POC Fathi al-Jahmi

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Fathi Al-Jahmi became an activist for democracy in the 1970s. When he was a provincial governor in 2002, he criticized Muammar al-Gadhafi’s authoritarian regime, calling for free elections, a free press, and the release of political prisoners.  The same year, he was sentenced to five years for speaking out against the government.  He was released in 2004 and arrested again a month later.

Fathi el-JahmiDespite modest improvements in the human rights field in Libya, all forms of public expression, association and assembly are tightly controlled by the authorities. Any form of group activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the al-Fateh Revolution of 1 September 1969, which brought Libya’s leader Colonel Mu‘ammar Al-Gaddafi to power, is criminalized by law.

Despite his deteriorating health, El-Jahmi never ceased his campaign for change, indicating in a 2005 interview with Physicians for Human Rights Dr. Dan Otter that he is “struggling for human rights, for democracy, for this country [and] will call for democracy and transparency in Libya”.

In a statement, Amnesty International said:

Amnesty International is greatly distressed by the news of the death of Libyan opposition leader Fathi el-Jahmi earlier today in an Amman, Jordan, hospital following his recent “release” and transfer from detention at the Tripoli Medical Center in Libya.

An advocate of political reform, he was detained in Libya in March 2004 and held without charge or trial, most recently at the Tripoli Medical Center.  Approximately two weeks ago, he was flown to Jordan for medical treatment.

Amnesty International is still seeking clarification from the Libyan authorities as to the circumstances in which el-Jahmi, who was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, became seriously ill and was transferred to Jordan.

For more information, see Physicians for Human Rights, World Bulletin News, or News24.

Fathi el-Jahmi May Not Live to See His Next Birthday

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Fathi el-Jahmi © Private

Fathi el-Jahmi © Private

Earlier this month, prisoner of conscience Fathi el-Jahmi turned another year older inside prison walls in Libya. He was arrested in 2002 after calling for political reform and free speech at a conference in Tripoli, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Due to international support, he was released early in March 2004. Unfortunately, only weeks later, after repeating his call for democracy and political reform, he was detained yet again and has been in prison ever since. He suffers from heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and his health continues to deteriorate.

There’s a letter circulating in Congress right now, sponsored by Congressmen Frank Wolf and Mark Kirk, calling on the Libyan government to immediately release Fathi el-Jahmi and allow him to pursue medical care outside of Libya, according to his wishes. This letter really is our best chance at influencing the Lybian government, and Fathi el-Jahmi’s best chance at living to see another birthday—but so far not enough Members of Congress have signed on. Please take action!