The anniversary of the Abu-Saleem Prison Massacre took place June, 29, 2011 followed by protests in Libya. But before speaking about the anniversary, I’d like to explain Abu-Saleem and why it is remembered.
The Abu-Saleem Prison Massacre of 1996 is a huge story in Libya and one of the most chilling. Abu-Saleem is a prison in Tripoli, Libya and it is where political prisoners are sent. According to the report written by the Human Rights Watch in June, 27, 2006 the men in the prison were frustrated by “restricted family visits and poor living conditions”. The prisoners had seized a guard and had escaped from their cells. The guards shot at the prisoners and injured some. The prisoners who were injured were taken for medical treatment. Abdullah Sanussi and Nasr Al-Mabrouk arrived and had four men chosen by the prisoners to represent the prisoners. Sanussi and Al-Mabrouk told them to release the two guards they’d taken prisoner (however one had died) and they would deal with the physical conditions of their demands. The demands were, better medical care, outside recreation, family visits, clean clothes and an actual trial.
Later, prisoners from blocks 1,3,4,5 and 6 were moved into the courtyards. After this, grenades were thrown into the courtyards and men were perched with Kalashnikov guns to shoot the prisoners. Afterwards, they went through the bodies with pistols to shoot anyone still alive.
The prisoners were buried in a mass grave.
This happened in 1996. What had happened in Abu-Saleem started to leak out to families by the Libyan Authority that their family members were dead. But only in April 2004 was it announced that the atrocities of Abu-Saleem had taken place. This is 8 years after it had happened.
Libya AlHurra broadcasts from the North Court in Benghazi and on the anniversary of the Abu-Saleem Massacre these old women were speaking about the sons they lost in Abu-Saleem Prison. They said they had lost contact with their sons long before they found out. They’d prepare food and clothes and letters and videos for their sons, husbands, brothers, uncles and take it all the way to Abu-Saleem. For years they weren’t allowed to see them, but the guards in Abu-Saleem would take these items ‘for the prisoner’. The guards would eat the food, take the gifts and clothes and an ex-prisoner from Abu-Saleem said that they would sell the videos that the families had sent for their relatives. All this, and the man had been dead from 8 years earlier. Why? Because not only were they in prison for challenging the regime, but for asking for basic human rights.
There were 1269 men killed in Abu-Saleem, June, 29, 1996.
On June, 29, 2011 there was a protest for the 15th anniversary of the massacre. The protest was huge, and the first real protest on the anniversary in Libya. The protest was to start from a location in downtown Benghazi and end in the North Court. The amount of people who were there was incredible. The flag was everywhere. Women, children, men, all chanting for the fall of the regime and honouring the men killed.
The most powerful moment of the whole protest was when the children of the men who were killed in Abu-Saleem joined us in the protest. They walked in a line-up in the middle of the crowd, with pictures of their fathers hung around their necks.
We ended up in the North Court and the chants began and a small speech was said to the images of the dead men from Abu-Saleem staring out from old photographs.
Details on the Abu-Saleem Prison Massacre were taken from the Human’s Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/06/27/libya-june-1996-killings-abu-salim-prison).
Source- Mukhtar’s Libya