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When the regime lies - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When statements issued by government officials and spokespersons are inconsistent and contradictory, then this means that the regime is lying. When a regime desperately tries to disprove a certain incident, this confirms that the incident took place, even if the regime is trying to blur the reality of the situation by spreading lies and distortions.

This is what happened with regards to the Gaddafi regime attacking Libyan lawyer Iman al-Obeidi, who courageously exposed the Libyan regime and the practices of its soldiers and mercenaries, brining the crime of her rape to the attention of the world, and bringing the regime and its practices to trial in the court of public opinion. It seems that the Libyan regime has told many lies, particularly in the recent period when it began to feel the noose around it tightening, however its desperate attempts to distort the truth and destroy the reputation of this young Libyan woman represents the summit of its moral and ethical collapse. Perhaps one could not expect anything else from this regime whose leader described the people of Libya as rats and stray dogs, calling for their extermination.

The Libyan regime attempted to confront the young lawyer that challenged it utilizing all of its security and media tools, however Iman al-Obeidi faced this without any such weapons, breaking through the fear barrier and any feelings of shame in order to publicly confront the regime and tell her tragic story, which freezes the blood of any respectable human being. Iman al-Obeidi entered the hotel where the foreign journalists were staying under the watchful eyes of the regime which prevents them from freely traveling around Tripoli and speaking to its citizens without supervision to tell her story. Libyan security officials rushed to silence her after she began to tell how she was arrested by Gaddafi forces at a security checkpoint and imprisoned for two days during which she was raped a number of times. We saw hotel staff reveal themselves to be undercover members of the Libyan security apparatus as they rushed to forcibly and violently silence the young Libyan girl. When foreign journalists attempted to intervene to protect Iman al-Obeidi against the attempts to forcibly remove her, they too were beaten, and their equipment destroyed by security forces in their frenzied attempt to prevent any pictures or footage being taken of the scene.

This scene disgraces the regime, however the greatest disgrace is what happened afterwards. Libyan officials and spokespersons rushed to tarnish the image and reputation of the young Libyan lawyer for daring to talk about her suffering. In the beginning, the official Libyan spokesman said that the investigators informed him that the girl “was drunk” and that she was mentally ill. This is the standard response of the Gaddafi regime. Did we not heard Colonel Gaddafi himself say that the Libyans who rebelled against him were drunks and on drugs? After this, a Libyan television presenter fronted an entire program on Libyan television which aimed to undermine Iman al-Obeidi’s reputation, describing her as a liar and accusing her of “selling out her country and the Libyan people.” She criticized Iman al-Obeidi saying “even prostitutes can be patriotic.” This “revolutionary” presented wanted Iman al-Obeidi to keep silent about what happened in order to preserve the reputation of Libya, so is this justice in Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya? The presenter revealed her stance when she said “our morals in Libya is that a girl should not talk, parents would rather die than reveal that their daughter had been raped, indeed they might kill the girl [to prevent this being revealed]”

The few minutes in which the young lawyer told her story to the journalist was enough to challenge the regime and ensure that all international media and internet websites covered this story which has horrified everybody, revealing to the world some of the practices being carried out by the agents and supporters of the Gaddafi regime away from prying eyes. This regime which is utilizing mercenaries to kill its own people has allowed for the country’s women to be abused, the entire world saw a glimpse of this during the early days of the crisis when a video-clip shown on YouTube and television showed mercenaries forcibly entering a residential building with women screaming “they want to break into our homes and kill us” being heard in the background. In a situation such as this where the regime is pushing its battalions and mercenaries to kill people, it is not strange for us to hear about a doctor in a city in eastern Libya revealing that after the regime’s forces were expelled, a number of women came to hospital for treatment after being raped. So Iman al-Obeidi is not alone in suffering as a result of the regime’s crimes, and the violation of all values, particularly the values of the Libyan people.

The Gaddafi regime spent a great deal of time trying to destroy the reputation of the young lawyer, with a Libyan official spokesman coming out to claim that she was a prostitute. He then attempted to play down this story, telling journalists – who showered him with questions about Iman al-Obeidi’s fate after security men forcibly arrested her – that she is well and is being treated well. He then said that she had been released and was with her sister and family, and that four people had been arrested and questioned about this incident. However just hours later, this same official spokesman said that the Libyan authorities” had questioned the girl and the circumstances surrounding this case” and that “the other party (i.e. the party accused by Iman al-Obeidi of rape) is being sued by her alleged attacks for libel and slander.

With the intensification of the regime’s campaign against Iman al-Obeidi, her parents came out to defy injustice and attempts to intimidate and silence them. Iman al-Obeidi’s father defended his daughter in an interview broadcast by Al Jazeera, in which he confirmed that his daughter did not suffer from any mental illness or mental deficiency, as the regime has attempted to claim, revealing that she is a lawyer and has graduated from the Faculty of Law. Whilst Iman al-Obeidi’s mother tearfully revealed that the regime asked her to intervene and convince her daughter to change her story, in return for money or a house. However even if the Libyan regime has sold its honour and values, Iman al-Obeidi’s mother refused to sacrifice her daughter, and told her to be steadfast. The bereaved mother said that she was not ashamed of her daughter, but that she was proud because her will did not break in the face of the security elements.

Iman al-Obeidi’s tragedy is another chapter in the fall of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, which has lost all of its legitimacy after it resorted to killing and extermination to subdue the public, stripping itself of all values and ethics.

Osman Mirghani

Osman Mirghani

Osman Mirghani is Asharq Al-Awsat's former deputy editor and senior editor-at-large.

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