About Salwa


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Justice For Salwa Is Justice For All

We are determined to build the Libya we have always dreamed of….
We may become disappointed or get let down but we will never give up for Libya – no matter how long the struggle takes.
~The Last Words of Salwa Bugaighis~
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Salwa’s Story

“Salwa was neither carrying a dagger nor a rifle. She was only carrying her gentleness, her calm, her beautiful smile and her courage, which made her indifferent to the Islamic threats for being an unveiled woman, for being a human rights activist, and for being a politician competing with men in a domain that is monopolized by them.” ~ Karama Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 13.55.31

On June 25, 2014, on a Wednesday morning in Benghazi,Libyans felt a sense of renewed hope as they cast their votes in the second legislative elections in Libya’s turbulent transition, establishing the principle of peaceful transfer of power. This moment proved pivotal in Libya’s history and compelled human rights lawyer Salwa Bugaighis to return to her home in Libya for the occasion, despite the many death threats she’d received and the increasingly chaotic environment intensified by guns, bombs, and discord.

After casting her vote, Salwa posted a picture of herself at the polls on her Facebook page. Her belief in Libya and its future outweighed her sense of fear, and she campaigned ceaselessly throughout the day, as she had nearly all of her life, to advocate for security, peace, democracy, and human rights. Later in the day, she heard gunshots from her home and could see sporadic violence from her window. Despite this, she continued to have hope, encouraging as many as possible to go out and vote: “Please hold on and be patient until eight o’clock,” she wrote. “They will not beat us and they will not thwart Benghazi’s electoral process…Talk to people…call your friends and your family…they must fight peacefully by casting their votes…We are determined to build the Libya we have always dreamed of.”

As evening fell, the risks she had taken in returning to her home proved a reality. A group of five masked and armed men broke into her home and brutally assassinated Salwa. Their goal: silencing her voice and the strength of her message, which was so powerful it had long ago reached men, women and children across Libya, the region, and world.

As the news broke locally and internationally, an outpouring of shock, anger and revulsion at the cowardly and abhorrent act of violence and oppression was coupled with the unbearable grief and heartbreak of the thousands who knew Salwa—whether as a friend, a colleague, a mother, and a wife, or as the symbol of Libya’s brighter future that she’d come to represent, a future Libya characterized by peace, equality, and humanity, where daily life could be lived—by men and women alike—with dignity.

Amidst the grief, it was this legacy that grew stronger and magnetized those who shared the same vision to work even harder to build the Libya that she’d so relentlessly championed. As a lawyer, she campaigned on behalf of political prisoners under the Gaddafi regime. As a member of the National Transitional Council, Salwa led advocacy to lobby for a higher quota for women’s representation in the decision making positions and resigned as a sign of resentment to the exclusion of women. As a cofounder of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, she engaged with women and youth leaders in leading civil society initiatives to confront militarization, violent extremism, and terrorism and to ensure an inclusive and just transition to democracy. As the recently appointed deputy head of the National Dialogue Preparatory Council, she pushed for open dialogue, peaceful resolution, and sustained hope in the face of ongoing obstacles. She believed in the right to live without fear and injustice, and fought for this right daily. Salwa refused to give up, and to her last breath, she continued to campaign to ensure that the values of the revolution were not forgotten, but honored and integrated into the very fabric of Libya: from its government and its laws, to the hearts of its citizens.

Read the full story

Salwa Bugaighis brought hope to thousands with her peaceful and driven battle for a better Libya. She understood and fought to increase understanding that women’s rights are inherently entwined with human rights. Our campaign says that Justice for Salwa is Justice for All. It continues her fight, and that of so many others who have suffered and continue their struggle for a world where women among all others are able to exercise their right to life, and their choices to speak, to act and to lead against a life of oppression and violence. But more than that—the fight for a world where there is peace, freedom, security and justice for all.

Watch the interview with Salwa’s son and brother: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGztcUYmdcg

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Salwa’s Last Words ~ June 25, 2014

These were Salwa’s last words, representing the values that she believed in, fought for, and for which she gave her life: discussion, peaceful struggle, peaceful transfer of authority through elections and rule of law.

1.Please wait and have patience until eight o’clock. They will not beat us and they will not thwart Benghazi’s electoral process. Be on time. Greetings to those who oversee the polling centers. Tell people…call your friends and your family…they must fight peacefully by using their votes.

2. I beg the people of Benghazi to head to the polling stations to protect them, to raise morale, and to encourage those in charge of them. I beg my people on all sides to stop the clashes for just three hours. I beg the youth to go and vote now.

3. My people of Benghazi, we must pray to God to give them patience, strength, and determination for a few hours where they will take an unforgettable stand for Benghazi and Libya. Go for the sake of our martyrs’ blood…go…They will not stop us from practicing our constitutional rights and our national duty.

4. Benghazi has challenges, as usual…but despite the pain, fear, and sadness, Benghazi will prove to everyone that it will not kneel or bow. It will continue to fight no matter the challenges and difficulties. We are determined to build the Libya we have always dreamed of.Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 15.00.24

5. Everyone must remember our martyrs whose sacrifice made it possible for us to enjoy democracy now. Participation has exceeded all international and local expectation…The international community is surprised that this proud city has stood its ground. I am filled with pride for my Benghazi and its people for their exceptional participation in the democratic process for Libya. We may become disappointed or get let down but we will never give up for Libya – no matter how long the struggle takes.

6. Please follow the electoral process to the end. Beware and take care if you are an elections observer. You must protect our votes.

7. I hope to protect the Supreme Court. People of Tripoli, please be on time. We must have human shields in front of the Court from nine o’clock.

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Messages Of Support- Sharing The Vision of A Peaceful Libya

“ We promise Salwa, we will continue to fight for freedom, justice and dignity,
And we will continue to flight for women rights.” ~
Ali Hussein Al-Dailami President of the Yemen Organization for the Defense of Democratic Rights and Freedoms & Emad El Garash Yemeni Network for Women, Peace and Security

 “Mercy instead of revenge, collaboration instead of competition, inclusion instead of exclusion — these are the ideals that a war-torn Libya needs desperately.” ~ Zahra” Langhi, Co-Founder of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace

“Salwa was neither carrying a dagger nor a rifle. She was only carrying her gentleness, her calm, her beautiful smile and her courage which made her indifferent to the Islamic currents threats for being an unveiled woman and for being a human rights activist defending human rights, and for being a politician competing with men in a domain that is monopolized by them. Salwa believed that dialogue, peaceful solution and the practice of democracy as a free podium through which parties can communicate was the only way for a free and democratic Libya. With you gone, a vibrant voice faded away.~ Karama Team.

We shall proceed as you did Salwa on the same course until your dream and ours come true, as well as the dream of the human rights activists and the dream of the Karama Organization.” ~ Ali Al-Dailami,  Yemen  

I have known Salwa for a short period of time and I felt that she was very close, because we share the same cause…. the hands of darkness will not silence us, on the contrary they shall make even stronger.” ~ Fatima Zohra Al Chaoui, Morocco

Salwa truly made a mark on me. In the short period of time I know Salwa, she meant three important things to me:  cultivating the intellectual mind, committing to a cause and loving her country Libya with a passion.  As we all must move on, we survey the dearest collective project of our generation – the great project of women’s rights and to remake our nation. Salwa believed that exercising one’s right to vote is a step towards democracy.. and so be it.” ~ Indai Sajor , Philippines

WE ARE ALL SALWA. Women will not be silent.” ~ Maya Morsy, Egypt

It is with much pain and grief that we have received this sad news. It is a a great loss not only for Libya, but also for the entire Arab world.” ~ Rony Abou Daher, Lebanon

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Salwa’s death is not in vain ~ Hibaaq Osman, Founder and CEO of Karama

TKaramaLunchCSW2014-0989[1]234576hroughout history there are a small number of people who, in death, become more than a person. They become a symbol. There are an even smaller number of people who manage to become a symbol in life, before they pass away. Salwa Bughaighis was one of these very special few.

Salwa was a symbol of beauty, of justice and, most importantly, she was a symbol of the future. Salwa offered a vision of moderation, tolerance, peace, dignity and respect for oneself and others. She embodied the hopes, aspirations and values of real revolutionary youth calling for change while at the same time upholding the rich traditions of Libyan society – traditions of patriotism, hospitality, and friendship.

In the weeks following Salwas death I, along with so many others, moved from feelings of paralysis and shock to deep anger and frustration. After struggling with questions of how and why this could have happened, I came to rest on a crucially important question: how do we honor and remember Salwa?

  1. Firstly, we are duty-bound, each and every one of us, to carry on her achievements. Salwa had a vision of how her beloved country should be and we must realize that vision through hard work and unfailing dedication. Her style was one of peaceful but unrelenting lobbying, along with unquestioned support to those who listened, for a fair, tolerant and progressive society.
  2. Secondly, we must work on new and effective ways to provide support to vulnerable members of society who live under the shadow of violence and oppression. Libyan women in particular must feel safe enough to band together, stand up together and shout together for the rights they deserve. This requires specific measures, programs and interventions from governments, and local and international organizations as well as the people of Libya themselves.
  3. Finally, we must acknowledge that those responsible are criminals of the lowest sort, and any attempt they make to hide in rhetoric and justification, is meaningless. The need for justice is clear, and we will strive to ensure that the protection of women and the punishments for those that violate this basic human right are ingrained in the justice system in every country.

Salwa Bugaighis was a sun shining through dark and stormy Libyan clouds. She represented the very best that her country has to offer. She is a martyr in the truest sense of the word and although we will miss her so very much, we will never forget her. Salwa’s death is not in vain.

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