Canada rejects asylum seeker deported to torture in Libya

By:Sandra Contenta

Canadian officials are washing their hands of an asylum seeker who was tortured when Canada deported him and his family to Libya, while it was still in the clutches of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Adel Benhmuda learned this week that his application to return to Canada with his family, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, was rejected by immigration officials.

Adel Benhmuda, his wife Aisha, and their children — including Adam, left, and Omar — were deported to Libya in 2008 after their claim for refugee status in Canada was rejected. The family was granted that status in Malta, but say their future is in Canada.

“It’s a real shock, especially for the kids,” said Benhmuda, whose two youngest sons were born in Toronto. “Tears are everywhere.”

Benhmuda, his wife, Aisha, and his four sons spent eight years in Canada. They were deported in 2008 after their claim for refugee status was rejected. Benhmuda was detained on arrival in Tripoli and jailed for a total of six months on two separate occasions.

During that time, he says, prison guards regularly bound his bare feet, strung him up in the air and beat his soles with batons and electrical wires. The family then fled to the island of Malta and was granted refugee status. Last February, the United Nation’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, formally asked Canada to resettle them as refugees.

Benhmuda’s Toronto lawyer, Andrew Brouwer, said rejecting the family’s request to return is particularly outrageous given that Canada effectively deported Benhmuda to torture.

“That’s on the hands of the Canadian government,” Brouwer said. “They have blood on their hands.”

“It’s crazy,” he added. “It’s a clear-cut humanitarian and compassionate application, and the refusal is completely unsustainable. We have a family with two Canadian-born kids, they were well-established in Canada, and (Benhmuda) has offers of work here.”

The family’s hopes were rekindled when — after the Star revealed their ordeal — the NDP raised the case in the House of Commons in June. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney insisted that Canadian governments do not deport people to torture, and defended Canada’s asylum system as the fairest in the world.

Kenney added, however, that his officials would give the family’s request to return to Canada “every humanitarian consideration” possible, and do so quickly.

At the end of September, an immigration officer from the Canadian embassy in Rome interviewed the Benhmudas in their small apartment in Malta. Rejection came in a Nov. 8 letter — received by Benhmuda’s lawyer on Nov. 21.

“After consideration of your application and the supporting information provided, I have concluded that humanitarian and compassionate considerations do not justify granting you an exemption from any applicable criteria or obligation of the (Immigration and Refugee Protection) Act,” says the letter, signed by S. Finall, first secretary for immigration at the Canadian embassy in Rome.

The letter does not address the torture Benhmuda says he suffered in Libya, but notes that he now benefits “from the protection of Malta,” where he obtained asylum. It ends with the phrase: “Thank you for the interest you have shown in Canada.”

Brouwer is now appealing directly to Kenney, asking the minister to overturn the decision of his officials and to allow the Benhmudas back.

Asked if Kenney might review the decision, his spokesperson, Candice Malcolm, said: “It’ll depend, I guess, if the case is brought to his attention, and what the facts are.” She said the department would be willing to say more about the case if Benhmuda signed a form consenting to the disclosure of private information.

In a telephone interview, Benhmuda says his sons — aged 8 to 16 — were so upset by the news they were unable to go to school.

“I want to go back for the future of my kids,” says Benhmuda, 43. “Canada is the country they grew up in. It’s the culture they know. It’s the country they love.”

Particularly upsetting to Benhmuda is how Canadian authorities deported him and his family. First, they concluded it was safe to return them to Libya, a country long known for its atrocious human rights record, a country Canadian and NATO warplanes bombed to help rebels get rid of Gadhafi.

Then they refused to let them carry their own passports and case file. They gave the documents to the crew of the commercial airline, and the crew handed them to Libyan authorities on arrival in Tripoli. It was like waving a red flag.

While beating him in jail, guards would accuse Benhmuda of shaming Libya by applying for asylum in Canada. After 18 months, he bribed his way out of Libya and landed with his family in Malta in 2010 after a roundabout route. They spent the first nine months on the Mediterranean island living in a cargo container in a refugee camp.

Benhmuda has been unable to find work. His children are struggling to learn Maltese, and they sleep on mattresses on the floor in one room. Adam, the youngest, suffers from asthma, and Moawiya, 14, from muscular dystrophy. Both were under regular medical care in Canada.

The island of 400,000 is under increasing pressure from African migrants and refugees landing on its shores. It has no refugee integration policy, and racism creates “an environment of fear, tension and mistrust,” the UNHCR says.

Benhmuda first fled Libya in 2000, after being roughly interrogated “10 to 15 times” by police wanting to know the whereabouts of his younger brother, Abu Baker. The brother belonged to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gadhafi organization that officially joined Al Qaeda in 2007 before cutting off ties two years later.

During the revolt that overthrew Gadhafi, LIFG members were represented in the rebel force’s Transitional National Council, which Canada officially recognized.

Benhmuda and his family arrived in Toronto after paying a smuggler $2,000 for a student visa to Canada. While his refugee application was being considered, he worked at two jobs, driving a truck at night and working in an optical lab by day. His wife, Aisha, volunteered at her children’s Mississauga school.

A refugee tribunal decided it did not believe Benhmuda’s story of repeated harassment and rough interrogation by Libyan police.

“I will never forget what Malta has done for us,” Benhmuda says, “but there is no future for us here. Our future is in Canada.”

Source: The Star

Libya Crisis Map

OCHA, UNOSAT and NetHope have been collaborating with the Volunteer Technical Community (VTC) specifically CrisisMappers, Crisis Commons, Open Street Map, and the Google Crisis Response Team over the past week.

The CrisisMappers Standby Task Force has been undertaking a mapping of social media, news reports and official situation reports from within Libya and along the borders at the request of OCHA (http://ochaonline.un.org/). The Task Force is also aiding in the collection and mapping of 3W information for the response. UNOSAT is kindly hosting the Common Operational Datasets to be used during the emergency. Interaction with these groups is being coordinated by OCHA’s Information Services Section.

The public version of this map does not include personal identifiers and does not include descriptions for the reports mapped. This restriction is for security reasons. All information included on this map is derived from information that is already publicly available online (see Sources tab: http://dev.libyacrisismap.net/login).

Focal Points & Media Relations:

* UN/OCHA: Brendan McDonald [mcdonaldb @ un.org]
* CrisisMappers/TaskForce: Patrick Meier [patric @ crisismappers.net]

For more information visit: Libyan Crises Map (http://libyacrisismap.net/main)

Translation of Declaration of the Establishment of National Transitional Temporary Council in Libya

Link to original Arabic Declaration, click here. For an unofficial German translation click here.

***UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION***

The Libyan Republic

Declaration of the Establishment of the
National Transitional Temporary Council

In affirmation of the sovereignty of the Libyan people over the entirety of their territory, land, sea and air; and in response to the demands of the Libyan people, towards the realization of the free will with which they shaped the uprising of February 17th; and in preservation of the Libyan people’s national unity; we resolve to establish a national council named ‘the National Transitional Temporary Council’ to be the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

Article 1
Functions

1. To ensure the safety and peace of citizens and the national territory
2. To coordinate national efforts to liberate the remaining quarters of the nation
3. To coordinate the efforts of local councils working towards the return of civic life
4. To supervise the military council so as to ensure the realization of a new doctrine for the national army towards the defense of the Libyan people and protection of its borders
5. To supervise the election of a founding assembly charged with developing a new constitution for the country to be submitted to public referendum, so that the legitimacy of the constitution is founded on: the will of the people, the triumphant uprising of February 17th, respect for human rights, guarantee of civil liberties, separation of powers, an independent judiciary and the establishment of national institutions that provide for broad and pluralistic participation, the peaceful transition of authority and the right of representation for every segment of Libyan society
6. To form a transitional government to pave the way for free elections
7. To conduct and to steer foreign policy, to organize relations with foreign nations and international and regional organizations, and to represent the Libyan people before them

Article 2
The Council’s Organizational Structure

1. The Council is composed of 30 members, representing all of Libya’s regions and all segments of Libyan society, with youth membership representing no less than 5 members.
2. The Council will select from its members a president, an official spokesperson and coordinators for a variety of domestic and foreign functions.

Article 3
Seat of the Council

The Council’s permanent seat is at the capital, Tripoli, taking Benghazi as its temporary seat until the capital is liberated.

Article 4

It is the responsibility of the Council to set protocols for its regular and emergency meetings and to make decisions in accordance with the interests of the Libyan people, in a manner that does not contradict the people’s demands, the basis of which were declared by the uprising of February 17th: the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the establishment of a civil, constitutional and democratic state.

Article 5

Based on agreement of municipal councils across various liberated areas, the Council selects Mr. Mustafa Abdul Jaleel as the President of the National Transitional Temporary Council and Mr. Abdul Hafid Abdul Qader Ghoga as his Deputy and the Official Spokesperson for the Council.

Long Live a Free and United Libya
Glory to the Martyrs of the February 17th Uprising

Liberated Libya March 2, 2011

February 17th Revolutionaries
(stamped by the Coalition of February 17th)

***UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION***

Live: Libya Unrest

Daily, Live minute-by-minute coverage of the unrest in Libya.

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: NATO to take over Coalition operations over Libya

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: Explosions heard in Tripoli but location remains unclear

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: No fly zone over Libya appears to be entering fourth night in Tripoli

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. You can also click on our links to … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: “It is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go” –Barack Obama

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. You can also click on our links … Continue reading

Dental records for Hana Gaddafi reopen mystery of Libyan leader’s daughter

By James Kirkup

Files stored in a basement room in one of London’s most expensive districts could shed new light on one of the greatest mysteries of Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya: the alleged death of his baby daughter.

The documents were found in the Libyan Embassy in Knightsbridge this week after rebels fighting to end Gaddafi’s reign formally took possession of the “People’s Bureau”. They disclose a London dentist’s work for the Gaddafi regime, reopening the mystery of the daughter the Libyan leader claims was killed in a US bombing raid.

Stephen Hopson refused to discuss his dealings with Libya

The Daily Telegraph has seen the papers. They show that in 2008 Libyan officials in London arranged for the dentist, Stephen Hopson, to fly to Tripoli to treat a patient called “Hana Ghadafi”.

Hana was the name of the baby daughter that Gaddafi claimed was killed in the US air strike on Tripoli in 1986. The attack is said to have led the dictator to order terrorist reprisals, including the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Hana Gaddafi’s death has never been verified, and many Libyans believe she actually survived the 1986 attack and still lives in Tripoli.

In 2008, the Libyan ambassador, Omar Jelban, personally arranged a business class flight to Tripoli for Mr Hopson.

The dentist declined yesterday to give details of his patient or discuss his professional dealings with the regime. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on his part, but the documents will revive speculation about the dictator’s daughter.

They show the Libyan embassy arranging for Mr Hopson to visit Tripoli in April 2008. In a fax to Mr Jelban, the dentist said he would be treating a patient he identified as “Miss Hana Ghadafi”.

It reads: “This is to confirm that I will be visiting Tripoli to treat Miss Hana Ghadafi this coming weekend. I will need a return plane ticket leaving the morning of Saturday 19th April and returning to London on the afternoon/evening of Sunday 20th April.”

There is no agreed way of rendering Arabic names into Roman script, meaning that Western spellings of Libyan names vary.

Also on April 14 2008, the Libyan ambassador instructed a London travel company to arrange flights for Mr Hopson, at the Libyan government’s expense.

Mr Jelban wrote a signed letter to Arab Tours asking them to issue the dentist with business-class British Airways tickets for the dates he requested. “Please send your invoice for settlement, with a copy of this letter, to the Libyan People’s Bureau in London,” he wrote.

Asked about Miss Gaddafi and the Libyan trip, Mr Hopson said he was “neither admitting or denying” anything. He said he could not give any details about his patient.

“There’s an element of patient confidentiality and if you were a patient, you wouldn’t want me revealing anything about any care that you had received and that’s why I can make no comment about any of this” he said.

Asked if his patient was Col Gaddafi’s daughter, Mr Hopson said: “It’s possible perhaps there could be a second Hana Gaddafi. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”

This week, Die Welt, a German newspaper, reported that Gaddafi’s daughter is alive and well and living in Tripoli.

Hana Gaddafi is thought to have been born in November 1985 and adopted by the Libyan leader shortly afterwards. Since her alleged death, a number of reports have suggested that she survived and remains close to Col Gaddafi.

In 1999, the official Chinese state news agency reported the presence of a Hana Gaddafi at a lunch her father held for Nelson Mandela.

This year, the Swiss froze assets linked to the Gaddafi family, including assets held under that name. Miss Gaddafi was reported to have lived in London as a teenager before studying medicine in Tripoli and working for the health ministry.

The embassy’s files contain numerous other documents relating to trips arranged to Libya by officials, but few involved Mr Jelban directly.

A Libyan government official on Friday night claimed that Hana is a second adopted daughter taken on by Col Gaddafi after the first one was killed in the 1986 bombing.

“This not an important issue when we have children dead and Nato bombing civilians in our country,” a Tripoli official said. “The Daily Telegraph should concentrate on these important issues.”

Source: Telegraph

Armed militia members haven’t been integrated into new Libya

In an abandoned house on a rocky escarpment perched high above Tripoli’s coastline, a lone teenage fighter sat in his pickup, armed with a pair of Kalashnikov rifles.

Abdullah Ghurah, 19, came from the city of Zintan, high in Libya’s western mountains. Like many young men who belonged to the brigades of revolutionary fighters that stormed Tripoli in August, he is still here with his band of militiamen.

Libya’s civil war is over, but the country is full of men such as Ghurah, members of independent militias who have not been reintegrated into normal life or absorbed into the new national army.

Libya’s civil war is over

Throughout the capital, there are checkpoints manned by brigades of fighters who use trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and other heavy weapons even though the city was liberated from government forces in August.

Libya’s new leaders say it will be difficult asserting authority over these brigades, some of which worry that the revolution can be reversed, and persuading them to disband.

“Those who want to … can join the national army and will be given proper training,” said Abdelrahman Busin, the military spokesman for the National Transitional Council. He acknowledged that there was an unwillingness among some fighters to put aside their weapons.

“A lot of people are concerned about the revolution being stolen from them, and until the government can prove that they are working in their best interests, they won’t lay down their arms,” he said.

No one knows how many men took up arms, but estimates range from 125,000 to 150,000, Busin said. The Interior Ministry plans to give jobs to 20,000 of these men in new security forces. Another 20,000 are to get positions in border security.

That leaves many others without jobs.

Many of the militias are groups of civilians who took up arms and organized themselves locally – naming their brigades after the towns or regions they come from. These bands of independent fighters greatly outnumber the units from Moammar Gadhafi’s army that defected and joined the revolutionaries.

For many, disbanding would mean conceding some of the status they won on the battlefield and handing over control to the politicians running Libya, an unelected council of technocrats.

Fighters from the western city of Misrata, where some of the bloodiest battles of the civil war took place, continue to patrol parts of the country, including Tripoli, Sirte and the south. Fighters from the city are holding on to their weapons.

“Misrata has not decided to surrender weapons unto the government,” said Ismail Zoubi, a young man from the Tiger brigade.

“We all agree that we have to take these weapons out of the street,” said Mohammed bin Rasali of the Misrata city council, “but for the revolutionary fighters to hand in their weapons to an unelected government, I think that these weapons should be handed to an elected government.” He points out that Libya’s National Transitional Council is a self-appointed body.

Rasali said he has seen no programs to reintegrate fighters into normal life. “They (revolutionary fighters) right now are in a state of shock, and once they do emerge, they will be very hard to please,” he said.

Throughout the capital, young fighters spoke of their disorientation as they try to adjust to normal life after months at the front line.

“I saw things that I can never delete from my life,” said Mouad Beitru, 20, an architecture student who joined a brigade at the beginning of the revolution. “One day you’re happy, one day you’re sad, one day you’re mad, one day you’re crazy. We’re watching movies now, but we saw it live.”

Part of the problem is that Libya has never had a truly professional army. Gadhafi, who himself took power in a military coup as a junior officer, mistrusted his officers and would try to balance power among various military outfits.

“Gadhafi didn’t like the army before, he just made brigades for his sons and himself,” explained Fouad ben Shabban, a fighter from the town of Zintan who manned a checkpoint in downtown Tripoli. “The army was very bad, but now we’re trying to make it better.”

Not all fighters are unwilling to turn in their arms.

Abdul Basset Hussein showed a certificate he received for turning in his weapon. He hopes others will do the same.

” I want to deliver a message to the world: Don’t be afraid, we are not fighters,” he said.

Source: USA Today

LIVE: Libyan Unrest

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: NATO to take over Coalition operations over Libya

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: Explosions heard in Tripoli but location remains unclear

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: No fly zone over Libya appears to be entering fourth night in Tripoli

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. You can also click on our links to … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: “It is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go” –Barack Obama

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. You can also click on our links … Continue reading

LIVE: Libyan Unrest: Misrata port cleared of Gaddafi forces, ready to receive humanitarian aid

We are tracking the latest developments to keep you updated on the situation on the ground. There are interactive maps located in the Protest map page to keep up with the latest movements. Also check out the featured twitters on the sidebar. On the Go? -Follow us on Twitter @Feb17Libya for the same live updates.

All updates are in Libyan local time (GMT +2).

That’s it for Live Coverage on March 24, 2011. — stay tuned on the homepage for Live Updates on March 25.

AJ correspondent James Bays reports on the desperate conditions for people who have chosen to stay in Ajdabiya, a city which has been fought over for more than two weeks.

 

China reaches out to Germany on Libya: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi laid out China’s “principled stance” about the U.N.-authorized military campaign against  the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a telephone call on Thursday with the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

Westerwelle will visit China next week for talks that appear sure to cover the crisis in Libya. Although Beijing and Berlin have often traded barbs on human rights, trade and security, they have found some common ground in shared misgivings about the Western air campaign against Gaddafi.

Libyan television footage shows a serious fire after allied air attacks on what the TV report said was a military base in the capital, Tripoli, badly damaging military vehicles. Wonder who actually caused this fire.

Today, at least 18 doctors and nurses from an organization funded by US AID arrived in Beghazi today.

 

Omar Ahmed Sodani, the man suspected of murdering PC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, has been arrested by rebel forces in the country and is in custody in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Yvonne FletcherPC Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot outside the Libyan embassy in London in April 1984 and died shortly after. Photograph: PA

3:10AM: Al-Jazeera reporter Anita McNaught, in Tripoli, says she has heard less military action in the city tonight than the previous five nights since the no-fly zone was imposed.

2:21AM: Here’s a video recording of Secretary Clinton’s statements about the crisis in Libya earlier today:

Source: CNN

2:08AM: EU Council President Herman von Rompuy after talks in Brussels: “From the beginning of the crisis, the European Union was at the forefront imposing tough sanctions. Today we decided that we are ready to adopt further sanctions, including measures to ensure that oil and gas revenues do not reach the Gaddafi
regime. Member states will ask the United Nations to do the same.”

2:05AM: Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, in Tripoli, says the lives of the Libyans are getting “harder by the day” as many petrol stations and shops are shut and many people stay at home because they fear airstrikes.

1:48AM: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says international action in Libya must “remain eminently political”, whatever Nato’s role, AFP reports. Mr Sarkozy also claims that international action has saved “thousands and thousands” of lives.

1:42AM: CNN’s Nic Robertson describes a media trip gone wrong in Tripoli, when they could not find a civilian house that the Libyan government claimed was bombed by Coalition forces:

1:35AM: A doctor in Misrata gives Feb17voices an overview of the situation in Misrata hospitals and talks about captured female snipers:
Listen!

via Feb17Voices

 

1:27AM:Here’s a full quote from Hillary Clinton’s recent statement: “Nato is well suited to co-ordinating this international effort and insuring that all participating nations are working effectively together towards our shared goals. This coalition includes countries beyond Nato, including Arab partners, and we expect all of them to be providing important political guidance going forward.”

1:17AM: AFP is reporting a statement from EU leaders saying they are “ready” to prevent oil and gas revenues from reaching Col Gaddafi’s regime.

1:04AM: Secretary Clinton says that “in only five days, we have made significant progress”. She also said that Gadhafi forces remain a “serious threat” to Libyan civilians. She notes that the US has agreed to a transition of the no-fly zone to NATO, but will also involve other nations including Arab nations, that the coalition is in control of the skies above Libya, and that humanitarian relief beginning to reach people, including a group of medics in Benghazi.

12:38AM: A US official has told AFP that the United Arab Emirates has contributed 12 warplanes to the military coalition over Libya.

12:33AM: The Nato chief said the organisation had agreed to enforce a no-fly zone in order to protect civilians. He said Nato’s mandate did not go beyond that, though it could act in self-defense, Reuters reports.

12:03AM: A video released by the Misrata Freedom Group used to prove that the Misrata port is now free of any Gaddafi forces. Summary below the video:

The speaker is giving today’s date, saying the port is NOT in the hands of Gaddafi’s troops as per some news sources and that supplies should start coming in since the port is in the hands of the good guys. He also says that they should come and transport the non libyans waiting in the port area to get out.


Libyan-American rapper Khaled M. discusses the crisis in Libya with NBC’s “The Talk”

11:43PM: Sky News searches for, but of course does not find, a house that the Libyan government claimed was bombed by coalition forces:

11:37PM: No deal on Nato taking over the leadership role for military action against Libya – it appears Turkey remains unhappy at the terms being proposed and has objected, so a deal is still being worked out tonight.

11:33PM: Libyan state television says Western air strikes targeted residential and military areas in the capital Tripoli and Tajoura. It did not specify whether it was referring to the Tripoli district of Tajoura. Reuters reporters in central Tripoli heard a distant explosion followed by rounds of anti-aircraft and tracer fire above the capital.

 

10:42pm:There are no signs that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government is complying with U.N. Security Council demands for an immediate cease-fire, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday. Read what else he had to say here.

10:15pm:The Pentagon spokesman says 350 aircraft – half of them American – are involved in operations over Libya, and that there is no evidence that any civilian casualties have been caused by these missions; however, he adds, there are suggestions that attacks by regime forces have caused civilian casualties.

10:12pm:A Pentagon spokesman, briefing reporters in Washington, says: “Let me be clear – when and where regime forces threaten the lives of civilians they will be attacked… Our message to the regime troops is simple – stop fighting, stop obeying Colonel Gaddafi’s orders

10:02pm:AFP says Libyan state television is reporting that “civilian and military sites in Tripoli and (the eastern suburb of) Tajura” have come under fire from “long-range missiles”.

9:46pm: AFP reports anti-aircraft fire over Tripoli and at least three explosions shaking the Libyan capital.

9:38pm:Six F-16’s from the Netherlands have arrived on the Italian island of Sardinia. The jets will be patrolling the Mediterranean to enforce the arms-embargo against Libya. They will not take part in combat missions

9:36pm:UN chief Ban Ki-moon says there are no signs that the Libyan government is complying with UN Security Council demands for an immediate ceasefire.

9:30pm: The Libyan government has welcomed a call by Uganda’s president to hold an extraordinary African Union summit on the situation in Libya, state TV in Tripoli has said

9:22pm: Libyan rebels plead — send us guns. One Libyan man says: ”We need arms and ammunition. This is our only problem,” he said in a briefing. “Our friends are trying to support us. I hope soon we will have success and we will have all the weapons we need to liberate Libya.” Read the story here

9:15pm:UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is making a statement on Libya. He says it’s important for international community to speak with one voice

8:45PM: Turkey’s foreign minister is being quoted as saying Nato will take command of the Libya operation, AP reports. He has told TRT television that Turkey’s demands had been met and Nato will take command of the Libya military operation. Nato needs the approval of all its members and Turkey had set conditions. So far there is no independent confirmation of the statement.

8:29PM: At least 109 people have been killed in the rebel-held city of Misurata and more than 1,300 wounded in a week of attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi, a doctor in the city told AFP news agency. The doctor working in Misurata’s state hospital said on condition of anonymity:

Attacks by Gaddafi forces since last Friday have killed 109 people and wounded 1,300 others, 81 of whom are in serious condition.

On Thursday alone “four martyrs fell because of sniper fire,” he added.

 

8:15PM: The disappearance of hundreds of people in Libya over the past few months may amount to a crime against humanity, UN human rights expert Olivier de Frouville has told the Associated Press.

8:01PM: The Libyan government is expecting coalition raids against telecom centres and radio stations, a government spokesman is quoted as saying by AFP.

7:56PM: Coalition tells opposition forces it will secure safe passage for aid ships from Malta to Misrata to dock, according to Reuters. Reuters also quotes a member of the opposition as claiming a major success – killing 30 government snipers in Misrata. He also says that all Libyan government military vessels have abandoned the port.

 

7:51PM: Read our expert’s military opinion of recent videos here.

 

7:48PM: AFP quotes a doctor as saying 109 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in a week in the city of Misrata, which is being fought over by pro-Gaddafi forces and opposition forces.

7:44PM:A Libyan government official says “about 100″ people have been killed by allied bombing, AFP reports. It is unclear if this refers to civilian or military casualties

7:42PM:The African Union has invited representatives of Colonel Gaddafi’s government, the Libyan opposition and others to talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa this Friday, Reuters quotes AU chairman Jean Ping as saying.

7:39PM: Rebels are in striking distance of the gates of Ajdabiya in their attempt to retake the strategic eastern town from government troops, AFP reports. One of the agency’s journalists says hundreds of fighters are marching on the city, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the rebels’ stronghold.

7:20 pm: “This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country…”.

6:50pm: African Union’s Ping invites reps of Gaddafi govt, UN council, EU, Arab neighbours to Libya talks Friday in Addis Ababba

6:45pm: In Turkey, parliament approves government decision to participate in NATO naval operation off of Libya.

6:32pm: French Officials confirm that French warplanes have destroyed a Libyan plane which had been flying in breach of the UN no-fly zone. The plane, a smaller trainer aircraft, had just landed in the besieged city of Misrata when it was attacked, they say.It is the first incident of its kind since enforcement of the zone began.

ABC News reported earlier that  the Libyan warplane that was allegedly shot down by French fighter jets today was a Galeb, single-engine military aircraft. To learn more about Galeb aircrafts read here.

5:45pm: Detained government soldiers and suspected mercenaries are kept in a former military prison near Benghazi, now taken over by rebels. Some of the men admit to serving with Gaddafi’s forces, but say they had no other choice, but to fire at rebels and civilians during battles for cities in the east of the country:

Abul Majid Mohammed, who served in the Al Fadila Battalion of the army, told Reuters news agency:

If anybody refused to open fire they would kill them, or burn them alive and on our eyes they killed soldiers who refused to fight.

File 17711
[Photo Reuters]

5:25pm: An unnamed US official tells AP news agency a French fighter jet which reportedly shot down a Libyan plane may have been a military trainer aircraft. He says the Libyan plane may have been landing at the time of the attack.

 

5:15pm: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has told the Associated Press news agency that he is “100%” certain that his investigation into attacks on Libyan protesters will lead to crimes against humanity charges against Col Gaddafi’s government.

5:06pm: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said in Tel Aviv that the Arab uprisings will prove positive in “long-run”.

5:00 pm: Jordan says its assistance to the international coalition action against the Libyan regime will be solely humanitarian. Information Minister Taher Adwan told AFP news agency:

“We will provide ambulances or humanitarian aid. We will not take part in actions on the ground in Libya”

Adwan comment comes a day after British prime minister David Cameron said Kuwait and Amman will provide “logistic contributions”.

4:25pm: The French defence ministry says it will not confirm ABC reports of a Libyan plane being shot down. They say they’ll put out a bulletin later on all today’s operations, and are withholding info for now “to avoid the misreporting of events that are still unclear”.

4:19pm: Sixty-four per cent of Russians don’t back the international military action in Libya, according to an opinion poll in that country. Russia abstained in last week’s UN Security Council vote, which paved the way for intervention.

4:10pm: Italy could offer warships and more planes for operations in Libya on top of four Tornado bombers and four F-16 fighter jets it has already deployed, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa says, according to AFP news agency.

4:05pm: Libyan state TV continues its pro-Gaddafi coverage, emphasising its claim that coalition air strikes have targeted innocent civilians in Tripoli and elsewhere, and people were now invited to funeral prayers for these “martyrs”. The allies say civilians have been spared in the air raids.

3:53pm: Latest on that ABC News report about a Libyan air force jet shot down for violating no-fly zone: it was a single-engine Galeb, apparently. Still no confirmation of that report.

3:49pm: Six Dutch F-16’s are about to depart from the Netherlands to the Italian island of Sardinia, from where they will be part of the international alliance enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. The Dutch ministry of defence stresses that the jets will not be used for attack purposes.

3:47pm: Fourteen Tomahawk missiles were launched overnight in Libya by the allies, says a spokesman for US Africa Command in Germany.

3:42pm: A Tripoli resident, unnamed for obvious reasons, tells BBC’s Newshour: “I’m not exaggerating if I say tens of thousands of young people are arrested. Look, we cannot even now stay close to each other, three or four people, for a couple of minutes talking or chatting, I mean it’s very dangerous.

3:16pm: Ever wondered what military operation monikers – such as Odyssey Dawn, ELLAMY and Harmattan – mean? So have we.

3:02pm: ABC anchorman David Muir tweets: “#BREAKING ABC’s Martha Raddatz:#Gadhafi sends up first warplane violating no fly zone — plane is shot down by French fighter jets.”

2:59pm: ABC News are reporting that a French fighter jet has shot down a Libyan air force jet which was violating the no-fly zone.

2:58pm: Heba in London writes: “As a fellow Libyan national, it is heart-rending what I see in my country. The everyday murdering of my countrymen by Gaddafi’s people is to be condemned. We fully support the international “no-fly zone”, this is the only chance for us to survive. We need to work on breaking down Gaddafi’s arms and his military capabilities, even if it takes weeks.” Have Your Say

2:49pm: Mr Hague tells the House: “It is not for us to choose the government of Libya – that is for the Libyan people themselves. But they have a far greater chance of making that choice now than seemed likely on Saturday, when the opposition forces were on the verge of defeat and the lives of so many were in danger.”

2:48pm: UK forces have undertaken 59 aerial missions over Libyan in addition to air and missile strikes. Operations are being carried out under US control, says Mr Hague, but Britain wants to see a “transition to NATO command and control as quickly as possible”

2:39pm: British Foreign Secretary William Hague is giving a statement to the House of Commons on the unrest. He says the intervention remains utterly compelling. “Appalling violence against Libyan civilians continues to take place, exposing the regime’s claim to have ordered a ceasefire to be an utter sham,” says Mr Hague. He adds that there has been “universal condemnation of what the Libyan regime is doing”, from the UN, Arab League, African Union and EU. “The regime’s action is strengthening our resolve to continue our current operations and our support for the work of the International Criminal Court. Our action is saving lives and is protecting hundreds of thousands of civilians in Benghazi and Misrata from the fate that otherwise awaited them”. Coalition troops are “taking the utmost care to minimise the risk of civilian casualties,” says Mr Hague. “The only forces acting indiscriminately or deliberately inflicting civilian casualties are the forces of the Gaddafi regime”.

2:30pm: The BBC’s World Affairs correspondent John Simpson, says reporting restrictions mean it is very hard to tell from Tripoli what is going on elsewhere in the country. But he says people in government appear to have become more confident that Col Gaddafi and the system can survive, at least in Tripoli and the surrounding areas. “That’s something new, because I’m sure a few days ago they were very much less secure in the their own minds.”

The US Naval Institute has released his handy map showing the location and nationality of the international forces brought to bear against Gaddafi:

2:27pm: The International Labour Organization (ILO) says there are still an estimated 800,000 foreign workers in Libya, AFP reports Revolutionary ready to fight Gaddafi forces

2:07pm: A Libyan energy officials tells Reuters the country is low on fuel and needs imports to deal with the shortages. The official told Reuters a ship was on its way to Libya with fuel but could be stopped or bombed by the coalition action.

1:59pm: The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris says French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet was careful to define the limits of the coalition’s powers in his press conference earlier. Mr Longuet urged coalition partners to remain patient with the operation, telling them “We must stay calm. We have the means to carry on. Col Gaddafi does not.”

1:55pm: Mohamed, at a polyclinic in Misrata, has just told the BBC: “We are without running water, electricity and communications for the tenth day now. My heart is broken by the carnage I have seen. Four boys died in my neighbourhood and I had to go to the funerals. I feel for them. But I feel a sense of freedom that I have never felt in Libya.”

1:48: Witnesses have told AFP that air strikes have been carried out on the Gaddafi-stronghold of Sebha overnight and on Thursday morning.

1:30pm: French military official Thierry Burkhard has told reporters a coalition strike overnight hit an air base 250km (155 miles) south of Libya’s coastline, the deepest strike into the country so far. Mr Burkhard did not say where exactly the strike took place but said it had threatened the population and that he was certain there had been no “collateral damage”. “The Libyan army is regrouping and reorganising,” he said. “But obviously we can stay that a massive capacity of the Libyan army has been degraded, reduced and weakened.”

1:26pm: The head of Nato’s naval blockade of Libya, Italian Vice Adm Rinaldo Veri, has said the operation is cutting off the “easiest, fastest and most direct way” for people to bring weapons into Libya. “I hope we can close all the windows, but one thing is sure: we are closing the main front door,” he told reporters. Vice Adm Veri said the mission would use “every means necessary” to keep weapons from reaching Libya. “If we suspect a ship is attempting to breach the embargo it may be necessary to send armed military aboard. If we encounter resistance, the use of force may be necessary,” he said.

1:17pm: British Prime Minister David Cameron commented that the remits of the UN resolution must not be exceeded was in response to a question about whether Col Gaddafi was a legitimate target for coalition attacks, Reuters reports. Mr Cameron also said the military intervention had “helped to avoid a slaughter” in Benghazi.

1:12pm: France’s Defence Minister Gerard Longuet has said the military intervention makes no sense if it is not paired with political intervention. “The military intervention is there because we have a political project. It is to discuss and build a different future for the Libyan people,” he said. Mr Longuet said the foreign powers were not “masters of this situation” and did not have a deadline. The aim of the coalition, he said, was to “encourage the emergence of a dialogue: a Libyan dialogue”.

1:08pm: China has called on all sides to observe a ceasefire in Libya. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the aim of the UN resolution – which Beijing abstained from voting on – was “to provide humanitarian protection rather than creating an even greater humanitarian crisis”. She said the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya should be respected”.

1:01pm: In an on-screen caption, Libya’s Al-Jamahiriya state TV says civilian and military sites in Tripoli’s Tajura district are “now being subjected to bombing by the colonialist, crusader aggressor”.

12:56pm: Kim Sengupta of the Independent newspaper is in the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi and has been making regular visits to the front line. He told the BBC World Service the rebels are poorly organisation and lacking in military skill. “Frankly, they have not shown much inclination to take on the enemy. They have, probably, spent about four times as much of the ammunition firing into the air than they have fired in anger. They are not trained fighters.”

12:47pm: Residents of Misrata have told Reuters the city is facing a “humanitarian crisis” after the port was reportedly seized by pro-Gaddafi troops. “There are more than 6,000 Egyptian workers, some with their families, plus some African workers, who are now in the port. They went there waiting for a ship to move them but nobody is coming,” said one man. The witness said the regime had sent two warships and several boats to the port. “They have besieged us from from the sea,” he said. “They haven’t attacked but if they do, the thousands of workers will be the first victims.”

12:42pm: The BBC’s John Simpson in Tripoli says Libya still appears to be divided between the east and the west. The rebels have “all the enthusiasm in the world”, he says, but do not have the organisation or weapons of the regime. The pro-Gaddafi troops, however, have weapons but don’t have the same mass support or spirit.

12:28pm:The BBC’s Jon Sopel at the allied air hub of Giola del Colle, in Italy, says yesterday’s coalition claim they control the skies above Libya makes it all the more interesting that there were fresh cruise missile strikes overnight, apparently targeting Libyan air defences. He says it would seem the allies have found some threat remains.BBC correspondent also spoke to an RAF Tornado pilot, who said air superiority in Libya will allow those jets to fly safer at a much lower altitude and identify Gaddafi tanks on the ground to attack.

11:28am: Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic snapped this photograph on Monday. It shows a rebel gunman at a checkpoint aiming his AK-47 at a man protecting another man who the fighter believes is a Gaddafi sympathizer, and shows how fluid the situation in Libya can be.

11:24am: Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley follows up on the story of Ahmed Mohammed, a boy shot in the chest during Gaddafi’s final push on Benghazi on Saturday morning, before Western warplanes began enforcing the no-fly, no-drive zone:

11:11am: Libyan state Al-Jamahiriya TV says in regular news broadcast that “civilian and military” targets in Tripoli were bombed after dawn today by allied forces. The report showed footage of people injured in hospital and some body bags with what appeared to be corpses, one apparently an older woman. The pictures can’t be independently verified.

11:05am: Al Jazeera’s Lawrence Lee says 28 ambassadors to NATO have just begun their fourth-straight day of negotiations to determine whether and how NATO can assume command of the military intervention against Gaddafi.

10:43am: Tunisia has joined the United States and European Union in freezing Libyan assets, an anonymous Tunisian government source told Reuters today. Tunisia froze assets belong to Gaddafi and five of his family members.

10:29am:The top NATO military commander, US admiral James Stavridis, is in Turkey today, the AP reports. He is meeting with high-ranking military officers a day after discussing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Objections by Turkey, a NATO member, are reported to be one reason why the western military alliance has not been able to agree about taking over command of the military campaign against the Gaddafi regime.

9:55am:The Telegraph newspaper’s Rob Crilly wrote a short dispatch last night from Benghazi, describing the effort by rebels to root out Gaddafi “sleeper cells” in the area. Young gunmen haul three men and a woman from a car at a roadblock at night, beat them, interrogate them and take them away to an “uncertain fate”.

9:56AM:Libya’s fairly tight-lipped opposition national council has opened up, or at least one of its members has. US-educated Ali Tarhouni, the newly appointed finance minister for the council, spoke with reporters last night and revealed that the rebel army consists of only around 1,000 trained men. (He apparently didn’t mention how many untrained volunteers are involved in the fighting.) Until now, the opposition has kept military details under wraps. Tarhouni admitted shortcomings in the rebel’s pell-mell ascent to power in the east. Tarhouni also said the rebels don’t have a cash crisis, despite being cut off from Tripoli. Countries have agreed to give the rebels credit, including the United Kingdom, which will give $1.1 billion, he claimed.

9:35AM:Check out a video of the aftermath after Gaddafi forces attacked Zintan here.

9:33AM:The BBC’s John Simpson in Tripoli says there have been explosions overnight in the Libyan capital. One particularly loud blast came from the direction of a military base. He says there are also suggestions Gaddafi tanks and artillery have resumed their assault under cover of darkness on rebel-held Misrata.

8:29AM:

More than 290,000 people have fled Libya due to the conflict there, and another 600,000 still inside the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, the International Medical Corps  said in a statement released on Tuesday. Libya’s border with Tunisia remains closed, but IMC is sending supplies through. In the east, IMC is still trying to reach Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, the scene of fighting for the past week. A team from Doctors Without Borders, which left Libya last week as Gaddafi’s forces neared Benghazi, is waiting for a guarantee from all parties “that medical staff will be respected and allowed to work freely” before it returns.

8:23AM: NATO member states will meet again in Brussels later on Thursday, after a third day of negotiations failed to agree on who will direct the military operation in Libya when the US relinquishes control. France is still resisting pressure to place NATO in full command. David Schenker, who directs the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute, has told the BBC: “It’s an odd dynamic. You have the French trying to set up an unprecedented war council, including the input of the Arab countries. I think that you will hear a lot of complaints from the US Congress about chain of command, about whether this is NATO, whether we should be part of this.”

8:16AM: Watch footage of Gaddafi forces killed by coalition air strikes in West Benghazi here.

7:41AM: Sixty percent of Americans support the allied military action in Libya to impose a no-fly zone to protect civilians, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday has found. Of those polled, 48% described President Barack Obama’s military leadership as “cautious and consultative”, 36% as “indecisive and dithering”, and 17% as “strong and decisive”. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said the US and its allies should try to remove Col Gaddafi. But only 7% supported deploying ground troops.

7:16AM: An Al-Jazeera journalist in the east reports that Ajdabiya Hospital is under “regular attack” these days and that most of the doctors have left.

7:13AM: Libyan regime officials took journalists on a trip yesterday to the town of Bani Walid, around 150km southeast of Tripoli, to demonstrate support for Gaddafi in the area, according to the AP. The Warfalla tribe, Libya’s largest, is strong in Bani Walid. Some residents told reporters they had recently received weapons from the regime, which has also distributed money to the Warfalla, according to western intelligence sources, the AP said.

6:47AM: There have been more explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire in Tripoli, the AFP news agency reports.

6:23AM: Opposition sources in Misrata tell Al-Jazeera that the latest casualty figures from the western city are 14 dead and 23 injured.

6:05AM: Libyan officials took journalists to a Tripoli hospital early on Thursday to see what they said were the charred bodies of 18 military personnel and civilians killed by Western warplanes or missiles overnight.

5:53AM: A doctor in Misrata told the Associated Press that the air strikes had targeted an aviation academy and a vacant lot outside the central hospital. He also said Col Gaddafi’s tanks had left the western city afterwards, giving residents a much-needed reprieve. “Today, for the first time in a week, the bakeries opened their doors,” he added.

 

5:51AM:The Libyan Transitional council has released new statement on march 23 read here

5:34AM:Coalition aircraft attacked a fuel depot in Tripoli on Wednesday night, Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has told reporters, according to the Associated Press. Other targets on Wednesday were near Benghazi and Misrata, Mr Kaim said.

Mr Kaim also condemned the air and missile strikes for not differentiating between civilians and military personnel. “To start up the national dialogue and get life back to normal, the air strikes should stop immediately,” he added. “Today, there have not been any attacks from Libyan forces, from the air or from the ground. And there are no military operations on the ground in Misrata. The situation is just confined to a number of pockets of violence and snipers scattered in different areas of Misrata.”

 

Map: Current Developments in the unrest in Libya

4:24 am:Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has denied allegations that the government has cut off water and electricity supplies to Misurata. “We heard those rumours that the government has intentionally cut off supplies,” said . “It’s just a technical problem because of damage and looting.”

Misurata residents say the city is under attack by government forces who have severed their basic supplies and effectively besieged the last major opposition holdout in western Libya.

Omar al-Mislati, planning manager for the state water company, said up to 70,000 out of 300,000 people in Misurata had no access to water due a technical problem and damage caused by some of the fighting.

Video:NBC’s Richard Engel Almost Shot In Benghazi, Libya

 

Another

Live call from Misrata via Feb17voices:

 

A doctor in the city says “Tank fired on building ‘very close’ (10-20m) to hospital, states hospital has power, a generator.”

 

3:34am: ABC Radio in Australia Reports: A man from Misurata says the town is suffering & running out of supplies. Listen:

 

3:19am:More on that reported explosion in Tripoli. Residents tell Reuters: “We heard another explosion just now. We see smoke rising. There are people on rooftops. It seems to be in a military area near the engineering college.

 

3:15am:Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the conflict in Libya may spur sales of a £65m ($106m) Eurofighter warplane.

 

3:12am:Residents report hearing a loud explosion in the Tripoli area, Reuters says.