Williams Remains Silent on Violations Against Tripoli’s Protesters, Yet Sarraj Wants Her to Condemn Sirte Events – Al Marsad

The popular movement protesters in Tripoli were shot at for the third day in a row by gunmen loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj. This has been taking place amid the abject failure of the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA) to fulfil its promises to protect peaceful demonstrators in Martyrs Square. On its part, the Presidential Council issued a statement in which it dubbed the Libyan National Army as the “enemy of democracy” denouncing the Sirte skirmishes between it and some young men from the Qadhadfa tribe in which one died.

(Libya, 26 August 2020) – The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) published one statement in which it shyly condemned what it described as the “excessive use of force” against the demonstrators without referring in any way to the fact that the unarmed protesters had been fired at from a vehicle of the GNA’s Interior Ministry carrying anti-aircraft guns, specifically the Nawasi Battalion.

Today evening, Wednesday, after Fayez al-Sarraj announced a 24-hour curfew, and despite Amnesty International’s condemnation of the violations committed against peaceful protesters, the attacks on the popular movement’s youth in the Martyrs Square renewed just because of their presence in the square chanting their demands against the GNA.

It seems that UNSMIL has not seen these successive attacks on the demonstrators and is content with the statements of the GNA’s Interior Ministry, the Presidential Council, and Osama al-Juweili, who considers the demonstrators as rioters and saboteurs infiltrated from inside and outside.

Citizens vituperatively criticized UNSMIL and its head, Stephanie Williams, and all Western and Arab diplomatic missions for their shameful silence as regards what has taken place. UNSMIL has a tradition of issuing  immediate statements on matters and events related to other parties and cities hundreds of kilometers away from it, yet now, on a matter that directly pertains the behaviour of Fathi Bashagha’s Ministry of Interior who is responsible for security in the capital and the country, it finds itself unable to find the words to describe the situation as it is.

According to well-informed Western diplomatic sources, UNSMIL may issue a statement to welcome Fathi Bashagha’s statements though has not so far announced the results of his promised investigation concerning the so-called “infiltrators” in the ranks of his forces. These “infiltrators”, ironically enough, have been roaming the streets since yesterday to suppress and kidnap the peaceful protesters. These are well identified, notably among them is the Nawasi Battalion of the Interior Ministry itself. The UNSMIL has not so far issued any comment while its media office did not respond to journalists requests regarding the incessant violence against the peaceful protesters.

Regrettably, this has been the way with UNSMIL and Williams personally when it comes to the GNA. She refrains from issuing condemnation statements and then waits for the statement of condemnation and investigation from Bashagha or  Sarraj to announce her welcome and support, instead of UNSMIL spearheading the investigation of the cases itself—because the government is always involved and thus cannot be impartial. Otherwise, the GNA would be both perpetrator and judge.

It is noteworthy that UNSMIL had announced its support for opening an international investigation into post-2016 violations only. Regrettably, this would absolve many parties from the violations they committed since 2011 and involve discrimination as some Libyans would then enjoy justice while others, also deeply wronged, will not. 

© Al-Marsad English (2020)