Tawergha leaders today offered a formal apology to the people of Misrata for the death and destruction caused by Qaddafi’s forces . . .[restrict]operating out of their city.
This highly significant statement was made at a Benghazi meeting attended by almost 1,000 people, including Tawergha tribal elders and displaced residents of the city who are living in Benghazi. Also present were senior officials from the NTC.
There were however no representatives from Misrata to hear Tawergha leaders shift their ground from claiming that Qaddafi’s troops had forced themselves on their city, to use it as a base for their four month bombardment and siege of the Misrata, 20 miles away. At least 2,000 rebel fighters died in the fighting for the port city and 900 others were seriously injured.
The elders admitted: “We, the Tawergha tribes of Libya apologise to our brothers in Misrata for any action committed by any resident of Tawergha. We affirm that their honour is our honour, their blood is our blood and their fortune, is our fortune”.
They went on to say: “We extend our hands and our hearts in the interests of all of Libya and in the interests of building together a prosperous future and a brighter tomorrow”.
They further called on all Libyans accused of committing crimes, regardless of their tribal affiliations, to surrender to the authorities and accept their punishment.
The NTC immediately applauded the statement. A senior official Mohammed al-Mufti, representing the NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said:
“The National Transitional Council welcomes these steps, which will heal the rift between the disputing brothers”. He added that national stability was crucial. “The reconciliation between the Tawergha and the people of Misrata concerns all Libyans and has their support”.
Once driven out of Misrata by rebel fighters, Qaddafi’s forces in the area quickly crumbled and the rebels moved into Tawergha. Some 30,000 locals, predominantly descendants of African slaves, fled the city and its surrounding area, after revenge attacks took place against an unknown number of citizens. People who sought to stay were driven from their homes, which were then looted and burnt. Tawergha became the ruined the ghost town it remains today.
Earlier this months, militia men in 25 vehicles clearly marked as belonging to Misrata brigades descended on the former Janzour naval academy, which is home to some 1,500 displaced people from Tawergha. In the subsequent violence seven people were shot dead by the militia men. The attack prompted immediate condemnation by the United Nations Mission of Support in Libya (UNSMIL), which demanded that government secure the camp properly. [/restrict]