Libya's Campaign To Discredit Eman al-Obeidi After Rape Allegations

Update: Amnesty has issued an Urgent Action for Eman al-Obeidi (PDF)

Libyan-American women demonstrate to show solidarity with Eman Al-Obaidi in front of the White House March 30, 2011. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The scene was chilling.  A woman bursting into a Tripoli hotel room to tell foreign reporters she was raped by Gaddafi’s troops only to be forcibly dragged away by security officials and effectively disappeared.

Now Amnesty fears Eman al-Obeidi is being detained and put under pressure to withdraw her allegations in what looks to be an attempt at face-saving by the government.

Al-Obeidi, who is now being sued by those who she says raped her with the apparent approval of Libyan authorities, should be released immediately.  Instead of carrying out this smear campaign, the government should launch an investigation into her very serious allegations.

Eman al-Obeidi was removed from the Tripoli hotel last Saturday by security forces and detained and has not been seen since despite government claims that she was released.

During Colonel al-Gaddafi’s long rule in Libya, critics and opponents of his government have been routinely subjected to detention, torture and disappearance.  Amnesty International has recently documented further cases of enforced disappearance by his forces since the current protests began.

Eman al-Obeidi’s case is alarming also because of the signal it sends to other women who may be subject to rape or other sexual violence, and who may now fear to come forward and disclose what has been done to them.

We will be issuing an urgent action for our members to write to the Libyan authorities and demand Eman al-Obeidi’s release later today.  We will post the link back here on this blog.

Woman Silenced After Accusing Libyan Forces of Rape

You may have seen the extremely disturbing video footage released over the weekend from Libya: Eman al-Obeidi forcibly dragged away by security officials Saturday after bursting into a Tripoli hotel where international journalists had gathered and saying she had been raped.

Eman al-Obeidi’s allegations are stomach-churning. The Libyan authorities must immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation and bring those responsible to justice if the allegations are well-founded.

It is troubling that Iman al-Obeidi was forcibly dragged away by Libyan security officials when she tried to speak to journalists. Libya says it has since released al-Obeidi.

The Libyan authorities have a long record of silencing those who dare speak out against human rights violations. It is all the more worrying that they did not hesitate to do this, using heavy-handed methods, despite the presence of the international media.