We remember Libyan Human Rights Activist Salwa Bugaighis

June 25, 2015

Hivos, together with human rights activists from across North Africa, the Arab region and the world, attended events in Cairo and the Netherlands on 25 June 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.

Masked gunmen murdered her at home, moments after voting in the Libyan general election on 25 June 2014. No one has been brought to justice for her murder.

Her life was 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 brought 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”, was screened at both events. You can watch it below.

Attendees called 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.

Jetteke van der Schatte Olivier, programme manager of Women on the Frontline at 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.”