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Victims of torture

23 Jun 2013 12:30 pm
Libya: In tough times, Benghazi commemorates 'International Day Against Torture'

Libya: In tough times, Benghazi commemorates 'International Day Against Torture'

In tough times, Benghazi commemorates ‘International Day Against Torture’

Benghazi, the birthplace of Libya’s February 17th Revolution, is fraught these days with risk. In the past month, there have been bombings of police and military installations, tense demonstrations, and shootouts between security forces and other armed groups, resulting in dozens of casualties and hundreds of injuries. OMCT is treading into this uncertain terrain this week to call for an end to the violence on the occasion of June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

For the second time since the revolution, OMCT is supporting its Libyan partners in their commemoration of this day. OMCT is accompanying the National Council of Civil Liberties and Human Rights in organizing a public conference on June 26 titled, Drawing from the past to master our future: the fight against torture in Libya. The event will focus on issues of collective trauma and transitional justice.

In the days leading up to this conference, Benghazi artists ‘Hamzawi’ and ‘Nadeer’ will lead a graffiti workshop for Benghazi youth. They will create a street mural against torture with the support of Tunisian artists ‘Willis from Tunis’ and the ‘Zwewla’ group, as well as OMCT and the Cultural Council of the Union for the Mediterranean. Symbolically, the mural will be painted (with permission) on the wall of a militia headquarters. Currun Singh, Regional Advisor of OMCT, said, “It’s important to push this conversation beyond the walls of the conference room. The people of Benghazi were the first to take the streets in the revolution and now you see amazing art everywhere on the street. The revolution was only the beginning and we stand united with Benghazi to say no to torture and no to violence.”

Film screenings, a poetry night, and a musical concert are among the other events this week organized by OMCT and its Libyan partners on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (see full program above and to the right). OMCT has been active in Libya ever since the Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, which it brought to the attention of the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations. Since the revolution, it has been accompanying civil society in fighting against torture and supporting legal reforms.