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Open Letter to Libya Ambassador to Canada regarding the urgency for action to curb the violence in Libya

    February 22, 2011

    His Excellency Dr. Abdulrahman Mohamed Ali Abututa
    81 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1000
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1P 6K7

    February 21, 2011

    Your Excellency,

    We are writing to you on behalf of more than 80,000 members of Amnesty International across Canada to express our grave concern about disturbing reports that a rapidly mounting number of Libyans involved in peaceful protests in the country have been killed in the face of a harsh crackdown and use of alarming levels of lethal force over the past several days.  There have been reports that as many as 500 may have been killed.

    Amnesty International has received troubling reports of unwarranted lethal force being used on many occasions including when security forces opened fire with live ammunition on thousands of mourners who gathered outside a Revolutionary Guards building in Benghazi on their way back from the cemetery; and also when they opened fire on hundreds of people holding a sit-in in front of Benghazi's North Court.  There have been reports of many other incidents as well.

    We implore you to communicate to your government our plea that Libyan security forces be reined in immediately. They must be instructed to use force only when absolutely necessary and fully justified under international human rights standards.  The orders they receive must underscore that it is their obligation to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters exercising their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly.

    The protests in Libya are part of a wider movement across North Africa and the Middle East which reflects the desire of millions of people for changes that will ensure stronger and more effective protection of their rights.  In these circumstances, Amnesty International’s message to governments throughout the region has been the same:

    • rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be respected; and
    • force should only be used in limited situations if and when strictly necessary and justified under international law. 

    Similarly, we call on your government to ensure that its response to the current wave of protests and demonstrations in Libya is consistent with international human rights requirements.

    Alex Neve     
    Secretary General    
    Amnesty International Canada (English branch)

    Béatrice Vaugrante
    Directrice Générale
    Amnistie internationale Canada francophone