Father slit throats of three daughters in ‘honour killing’ after they were raped by Gaddafi’s troops
- Human rights group uncovers widespread war crimes by loyalist forces
- Investigators told children perched on top of tanks as human shields
- Soldiers ‘set up rape camp at school where dead sisters were attacked’
A Libyan father killed his three daughters after they were raped by Gaddafi’s troops to lift the shame on his family, a human rights group said today.
The girls, aged 15, 17 and 18 were allegedly assaulted by soldiers at a school in the town of Tomina, near the war-shattered city of Misrata, during a two-month siege.
When they returned home, their father slit their throats in a so-called honour killing, according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
The horrific story was one of a number to emerge from Misrata after the group sent in a team of interviewers in June to catalogue human rights abuses just after Libyan forces expelled Gaddafi loyalists.
Researchers from PHR were also told that Gaddafi’s men:
- forced numerous civilians to act as human shields
- perched children on top of tanks to deter Nato attacks
- used rape as a weapon of war with deadly consequences
The human rights group, which is based in Boston, concluded that there was widespread evidence of war crimes during the siege.‘Four eyewitnesses reported that (Gadhafi) troops forcibly detained 107 civilians and used them as human shields to guard military munitions from Nato attacks south of Misrata,’ said the report, which was released today.
‘One father told PHR how (Gadhafi) soldiers forced his two young children to sit on a military tank and threatened the family: “You’ll stay here, and if Nato attacks us, you’ll die, too.”‘
Richard Sollom, who was the lead author on the report, concluded that no one had evidence that rape was widespread – but the fear of sexual assault was endemic.
‘One witness reported that (Gaddafi) forces transformed an elementary school into a detention site where they reportedly raped women and girls as young as 14 years old,’ the report noted.
It added that it had found no evidence to confirm or deny reports that Gaddafi troops and loyalists were issued Viagra-type drugs to sustain their systematic rapes.
Researchers also heard reports of suspected honour killings – including the murder of the three sisters by their father.
But PHR also noted that ‘some in Tomina have stood up against this practice, including a well-known sheik who has publicly advocated for raped women and girls to be seen as brave and bringing honor to their families’.
The group obtained copies of military orders as evidence that Gaddafi ordered his troops to starve civilians in Misrata, while pillaging food caches and barring locals from receiving humanitarian aid.
Physicians for Human Rights only investigated the abuses committed by Gaddafi forces. The timing of their visit, and its focus on Misrata, meant that PHR was not in a position to comment on allegations of rights violations by the Libyan rebels or by Nato, the group said.
It said NATO should investigate any credible claims made against the allied force that supported the rebels, largely through thousands of bombing sorties.
PHR particularly raised the issue of medical neutrality in war time, accusing the Gaddafi forces of attacking hospitals, clinics and ambulances, and preventing doctors from reaching or treating injured civilians.
Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had collected evidence that ‘strongly suggests that Gaddafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.’
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, which is based in London, also accused pro-Gaddafi guards of raping child detainees, but added that Libyan rebels are abusing children and holding migrant workers as prisoners.
All three major human rights groups have called on both sides to respect prisoners – and beyond that, to build a post-Gaddafi Libya.
‘Individual perpetrators need to be brought to justice and held to account for their crimes,’ Sollom said.
‘And as we’ve seen historically in places like South Africa and Bosnia and Rwanda, it’s a cathartic experience for the country, and a necessary one, to move forward.’