The Libya uprising: One year on

Libyan women celebrate with the new Libyan flag at Martyrs Square in downtown Tripoli last August.
Libyan women celebrate with the new Libyan flag at Martyrs Square in downtown Tripoli last August.

By Ian Dunt

Political leaders were celebrating the anniversary of the Libya uprising today, despite ongoing concerns about human rights abuses under the new regime.

The celebrations come a year after people took the street of Benghazi in a movement which spread across the country and eventually swept Muammar Gaddafi from power.

"It was a defining moment of the Arab Spring and the Libyan people can be immensely proud of the inspiration they have given others around the world, as we are of our role in supporting them," David Cameron said.


"The Libyan authorities are making steady progress towards a peaceful country and in coping with the terrible legacy they have inherited.

"There are undoubtedly years of hard work ahead, including disarming militias and building a new Libyan army. But the Libyan people have shown they have the vision and commitment to succeed," he added.

"We will continue to support Libya, especially to deal with the legacy of the Gaddafi era, to entrench the rule of law, and to prepare for the country's first elections for 40 years in June."

The euphoria over the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime was tempered by reliable reports of torture from humanitarian missions in the country and rising concern about the new regimes failure to disband the militias.

A report from Amnesty International yesterday branded the militias "out of control" and acting independently of central authority.

Médecins sans Frontières pulled its staff out of Libyan prisons in Mistrata earlier this year after medical staff were asked to treat patients between torture sessions.

Director Christopher Stokes said: "Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order to make them fit for more interrogation. This is unacceptable

"Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions."

The relatively swift success of the Libya intervention has not been replicated in Syria, where the regime has killed thousands of people in its effort to retain power.

Russia and China were particularly horrified at the way France, Britain and the US stretched the UN resolution authorising action to its absolute limit in their assistance to the rebels.

That weariness led them to veto plans for an Arab League-backed resolution on Syria, where then prompted a new bout of killings by government troops.

The Libya operation also did little to convince the British public of the need for foreign interventions, with polls showing opposition to most military solutions to the ongoing killing in the country.

But the war was considered a major diplomatic success for Mr Cameron, who managed to get the resolution through the UN despite left-over hostility from the Iraq War and implement a policy which is thought to have saved thousands of civilian lives.
 

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