Witness Reports

Libya

Libya

Libyan law student Iman al-Obeidi burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli in March, saying she had been held for two days and gang-raped by Gaddafi’s soldiers. In an interview with CNN, al-Obeidi said:

“Everything they said about me is a lie… I am well-educated unlike the way the Libyan TV portrayed me. I come from a good family, regardless of what they said. I am also not mentally challenged, like they said. Just because I raised my voice and talked to the media, they blamed me and questioned my sanity. Nonetheless, I want my rights, even without the media."

She said she was tied up, beaten, and raped by 15 soldiers.

"People have blamed me for showing my body," she said. "I was depressed and there was no way to show people how I was tortured. I was brutally tortured to the point of them entering weapons inside me. They would also pour alcohol in my eyes."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) also collected accounts of sexual assault and rape from several Libyan civilians and physicians. Here is one such account from Mohamed, a resident of Tomina, a village on the outskirts of Misrata:

[Mohamed] reported to PHR that Qaddafi forces from Tawergha transformed a Tomina elementary school into a detention site where they reportedly raped women and girls as young as 14 years old. Mohamed remained in and around his village while his family fled to Misrata for safety. He reported that as of mid-March he served as a rebel fighter. He wore a green armband to visibly identify himself as a Qaddafi supporter, which enabled him to fight regularly on the front line without being detained or captured.

Mohamed regularly passed Alwadi Alahdar elementary school on one of Tomina’s rural roads en route to the front line. Mohamed reported that he heard the cries of women and girls on several occasions while passing the school. He reported seeing tanks and other military vehicles at this school in April 2011. On one occasion, in the quiet of the night, he heard drunken laughter through the open windows of the school building. He heard women cry out in pain and a man yell, "Shut up, you dogs!"

Mohamed is convinced that Qaddafi troops forcibly detained these women and girls and gang raped them. He said he heard directly from five separate male heads of nearby households and close friends that some of their daughters and wives had been raped by Qaddafi forces. One father confided in Mohamed that his three daughters aged 15, 17, and 18 had gone missing after Qaddafi troops arrived in Tomina. They returned to the family in late April and told their father that they had been raped in the Alwadi Alahdar elementary school for three consecutive days. In what is known as an "honor killing," Mohamed related to PHR investigators, this father slit each of his daughters’ throats with a knife that day and killed them.

The PHR account of this family and village continues:

Another long-time Tomina resident and mother of three corroborated these "honor killings" and estimated that Qaddafi forces had raped at least 50 women and girls from the small village of Tomina. She told PHR investigators that military wearing green uniforms "took men and women away and did bad things to them." One of her neighbors reported that while her husband was away fighting on the front line, she was alone with her 15-year-old daughter. A group of military in green uniforms forcibly moved in to her home and made her cook for them. They took her daughter into the front room of the house and repeatedly raped her for days. When rebel forces took control of Tomina on 12 May 2011, the daughter was found mute and nearly dead. The mother reported that she suffered recurrent nightmares, insomnia, and flashbacks. She exhibited pressured speech and hypervigilance while recounting these recent events.