25 June 2015
Human rights activists from across North Africa, the Arab region and the world will attend events in Cairo and the Netherlands today to remember the life of Salwa Bugaighis, on the anniversary of her murder in Benghazi.
Salwa Bugaighis was a human rights lawyer who had defended political prisoners arrested by the Qaddafi regime. In early 2011, Salwa came to international prominence as one of the first women to take part in protests against the Qaddafi regime in front of the courthouse in Benghazi. These protests would subsequently lead to the full outbreak of revolution.
Throughout Libya’s revolution, Salwa continued to play a prominent political role, including her work as an organizer of the February 17 coalition and a member of Libya’s first opposition government in over four decades.
She was murdered at home by masked gunmen, moments after voting in the Libyan general election on 25 June 2014. No one has been brought to justice for her murder.
Her life is remembered today at the memorial in Cairo, attended by activists, campaigners and diplomats from across the world, with more attending a simultaneous event in the Netherlands. The international events bring together the work of Cairo-based Karama, the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, New York’s Equality Now and the Dutch NGOs WO=MEN and Hivos, all united in Salwa’s memory. A documentary film, “JusticeForSalwa”, will be screened at both events.
Attendees will call for justice for Salwa and other victims of political violence in Libya, and for the international community to implement UN Security Council resolution 2174 to end impunity and bring peace to Libya.
Today, Karama, Equality Now and the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace are re-launching the Fighting for equality should not equal death – Justice for Salwa is Justice for All campaign calling for an independent investigation by the UN Security Council of Salwa’s murder and the current situation of women and human rights defenders in Libya, and that security and justice for women be prioritized in the post-2015 development agenda.
Salwa’s friend and colleague Hibaaq Osman, founder and CEO of Karama, said:
“A year on from the assassination of Salwa Bugaighis, political violence remains a huge threat to Libya’s democratic transition. The ideals for which Salwa lived and died may now seem even more distant than they did 12 months ago but we are even more determined to achieve them to honor her memory.
“We demand justice for Salwa and for all victims of political and gender-based violence in Libya. This must start by ending impunity for the perpetrators of such violence, the protection of human rights defenders, the inclusion of women as part of peacebuilding efforts. That must be the lasting legacy of Salwa Bugaighis.”
Elisabeth van der Steenhoven, Director of the Dutch NGO WO=MEN, said:
“2015 is the year in which we all celebrate the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, putting women at the heart of conflict prevention and resolution. Women like Salwa and Fareha al-Barqawi. One of its key elements was the full participation of women at peace processes, at the highest level. Fifteen years after the adoption of this resolution we want to see action. End impunity and let local and national women participate at the highest level of peace negotiations “
Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now said:
“We are concerned that at the mark of the one year anniversary since Salwa’s assassination, there is still no justice. Civil society organizations and human rights defenders are continuously at risk for their efforts to promote gender equality and women’s rights. We support the numerous calls for women and civil society’s active and full participation in promoting democracy and influencing legal reforms. But, these calls are empty without security. Security and justice for violence against women and girls must simply be at the center of the international agenda. It is imperative that we act now. Justice for Salwa is Justice for All.”
Jetteke van der Schatte Olivier, programme manager Women on the Frontline, Hivos, said:
“Women activists striving for peace and security continue to fight for dignity, peace and their rights, despite the threat of violence, increased insecurity and rise of terrorism and radicalization. Salwa stood at the frontline and we will remember her legacy and her legitimate fight, but we also owe it to her to continue to support others. Women activists remain committed to installing lasting peace and security in countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya. They address the root causes that sustain radicalization and polarization in the MENA region; they will rebuild their countries.”