Thursday, January 03, 2008

Libya reformed?

This morning I read that Libya begins its month-long presidency of the UN security council. Wasn't it just a few months ago that we got it to abandon pursuit of nuclear weapons and begin taking a look at human rights? How is it we trust them now to head the UN security council???

For a description of how our current administration is handling Libya, I want to paste a few paragraphs written by the brother of a Libyan dissident currently imprisoned for speaking out against the government:

Tomorrow, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam is to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Their sit-down at the State Department will come nearly seven months after President Bush declared himself a "dissident president" and promised active support for dissidents around the world. "I asked Secretary Rice," Bush said during a speech in Prague, "to send a directive to every U.S. ambassador in an un-free nation: Seek out and meet with activists for democracy. Seek out those who demand human rights."

Nothing of the sort happened. In fact, in its embrace of Tripoli, the Foreign Service has built a wall of silence around human rights concerns...

My brother, Fathi Eljahmi, is Libya's most prominent democracy activist. Speaking at a conference in Tripoli in October 2002 that is usually a stage-managed affair, he surprised Libya's mercurial dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, by suggesting that legal guarantees of free speech and a constitution should accompany Gaddafi's rhetorical embrace of reform. State security agents took him directly to prison.

After nearly 17 months, Fathi won a respite, thanks to the intercession of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). And on March 12, 2004, President Bush cited Fathi's release as a barometer of change in Libya. "We stand with courageous reformers. Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Eljahmi," Bush said. "It's an encouraging step toward reform in Libya. You probably have heard. Libya is beginning to change her attitude about a lot of things." Bush may have heard, but the Libyans had not. Two weeks later, Gaddafi rearrested Fathi. My brother has been in solitary confinement ever since.

Look to the whole article for more details and our government's reaction (or lack thereof). Just another example of how the current administration is failing to speak out again blatant human rights abuse in the world, to make a firm stance (and not just lipservice) against islamic fundamentalism, and in general to effect/demand real change.

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