Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More Internet writers’ arrests, Human Rights Watch reports

Libya’s internal security force has detained journalist and Internet writer Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri since last January in an apparent effort to silence a writer with critical views.

The government arrested al-Mansuri, 52, on January 12, 2005, in his hometown of Tobruk. Over the previous year he had written some 50 articles and commentaries critical of Libyan society and government for a U.K.-based website, http://www.akhbar-libya.com/. The website reported last week that he had fallen from his prison bed and broken his hip. Well, full board prison hosting with complementary beatings around the clock is a popular treatment by totalitarian regimes.

“Internet use has recently exploded in Libya, in the absence of a free domestic media,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. “Internet sites based outside of Libya provide an important forum for political debate, so al-Mansuri’s arrest is a setback for Internet freedom and the important debate on Libyan reform.”

The government claims it arrested al-Mansuri for illegal possession of a handgun. But he was apparently detained before the handgun was found, by agents of the Internal Security Agency, which normally deals with issues of national security. The authorities are holding him in Abu Selim prison, run by the agency. For at least the first four months of his detention, the authorities held him in incommunicado detention, without access to a lawyer or his family. Read the more from the HRW link. Falsifications are the easiest way to tarnish someone’s reputation or bring him or her to court. Remember the normalization and anti- Mubarak opposition activists in Egypt.

Al-Mansuri’s last article before his arrest, “Will the Key-Holder Come Soon to That Hall in Sirte?,” posted on January 10, was a subtle critique of a debate between two government officials, a reformer and a hardliner, expressing hope, but doubt that Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, would support the former. The English and Arabic versions of the article can be read here.

Another unsurprising face for Arab regimes is disclosed here. Regimes that attack peaceful demonstrators do not spare an effort to stifle all forms of freedom of expression without reason. It looks like it is our destiny to live as crippled world citizens deprived of freedom.

Free Internet writer Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri


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