lundi 28 février 2011

Human Rights Watch faisait l'éloge de Seif Islam Kadhafi en 2009

Source: NGO Monitor (HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson and Libya: Marketing Qaddafi)

In 2009, Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW), visited Libya, claiming to have discovered a “Tripoli spring.” In particular, Whitson praised Muammar Qaddafi’s son Seif Islam as a leading reformer. In two articles promoting this façade of reform, she repeatedly praised him for creating an “expanded space for discussion and debate.” In reality, Whitson was advancing a fiction; Libya remained a closed totalitarian regime that kept its population under tight control. Seif Islam continued to be an integral part of the repression, even appearing on state television to warn the protesters that the regime would fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.”

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed (February 24, 2011), weeks after the rebellion against the regime had intensified and Qaddafi began murdering his own citizens, she belatedly reversed course, acknowledging the absence of human rights “reforms” in Libya. Whitson admitted that:

“With no progress on any institutional or legal reforms... Seif Islam last year announced his withdrawal from political life and said that his foundation would no longer focus on human rights and political affairs... For sure, most Libyans we spoke with never had much faith that Moammar Qaddafi would learn new tricks, or that the announced reforms were anything more than an endless loop of promises made and broken.”

This condemnation reflects the chronic failure of HRW as a human rights watchdog, particularly in the Middle East.

Whitson’s “Tripoli Spring” Myth
In the wildly misnamed Tripoli Spring,” (Foreign Policy, May 27, 2009), Whitson called Seif Islam “the real impetus for transformation” via his Qaddafi Foundation for International Charities and Development and two semi-private newspapers. Her embrace of Qaddafi’s heir-apparent continued during a visit to Libya in February 2010, referring to him as one of the “forces of reform” in danger of being silenced, and favorably comparing the Qaddafi Foundation to HRW (“Postcard from . . . Tripoli,” Foreign Policy in Focus, February, 11, 2010). Although HRW’s Libyan press conference was cut short by government agents and ended in “pandemonium,” ominously presaging the violence of 2011, Whitson spun her trip and the event in an entirely positive light. As Nick Cohen reported in The Guardian (Our absurd obsession with Israel is laid bare, February 27, 2011), “Human Rights Watch, once a reliable opponent of tyranny…described a foundation Saif ran in Libya as a force for freedom, willing to take on the interior ministry in the fight for civil liberties.”

In the article, Whitson also praised her experience of “open dissent” in the country. Yet, she failed to disclose that in January 2010, the regime had actually imposed censorship controls on the internet and had blocked access to YouTube. By this time, the government had also shut down the two semi-private newspapers lauded by Whitson in “Tripoli Spring” and had established a new regulatory body to monitor journalists.

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