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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Political Prisoner: Fathi el-Jahmi

Physicians for Human Rights:

Citing rapidly failing health and a need for immediate access to better medical care, today Physicians for Human Rights and the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations (PHR/IFHHRO) called on the Libyan government to release prominent political prisoner, 63-year-old Fathi el-Jahmi, on humanitarian grounds. His isolated confinement and sporadic and inadequate medical treatment constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, the groups said. Mr el-Jahmi has been held at an undisclosed location since his re-arrest in March 2004. In response to numerous reports of his ill health, PHR/IFHHRO sent a Dutch physician and prison health expert, Dr. Joost Den Otter, to evaluate Mr. el- Jahmi’s condition. The organizations have released a detailed medical report ... After many years of opposing the current Libyan regime, Mr. el-Jahmi was arrested for delivering a speech at the Basic People’s Conference in Tripoli in October 2002 at which he called for democracy, national reconciliation, the release of all political prisoners, a free press and a free civil society. At the time, he was charged with “defaming the Leader of the Revolution.” On March 12, 2004, Libyan authorities released Mr. el-Jahmi, following United States Senator Joseph Biden’s meeting with Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi during which he advocated on Mr. el-Jahmi’s behalf. Two weeks later and shortly after Mr. el-Jahmi called for democratic reforms in interviews with the Arabic news channels al-Hurrah and al-‘Arabiya, Libyan security officials forcibly removed him from his home, detaining him along with his wife and eldest son. Since late 2004, when Libyan authorities released his son in September and then his wife in November, Mr. el-Jahmi has been held in isolated confinement with minimal outside contact at an undisclosed location. Previous attempts by international human rights groups to visit Mr. el-Jahmi have been unsuccessful.
While neo-cons have loudly (and justly) claimed success in getting Libya to abandon it's WMD program we should remember that this regime is not one of the good guys. Gaddafi has spared himself a visit from out military, but we don't need to pretend that everything is ok now. Libya should release Fathi el-Jahmi, and the other political prisoners it is holding and begin reforming it's government toward a democracy. That is the only just and desirable end goal.


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