By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 28 June 2014:
Three days after the vicious murder of political and human rights activist Salwa Bughagis, Libyans are . . .[restrict]still coming to terms with her loss. Brutally murdered in her own home on election day and just after she had exercised her democratic right to vote, activists are already using her tragic loss and her legacy as a rallying call to continue the fight for all that Salwa had stood for.
Dr Fatima Hamroush former Minister of Health in Abdelrahim Al-Kib’s Libyan Transitional Government (November 2011 – November 2012) had been the victim of armed intimidation by militias during her time in office. She told Libya Herald “Words cannot express the heartache I feel for Salwa’s family at such a difficult time and experience. My prayers go to them.
“I held a great deal of respect and affection for Salwa from the time we met at the National Transitional Council (NTC). She was an example of the free progressive Libyan, a strong and honourable woman in leadership and a threat to those who do not want Libya to move forward.
“Salwa fought by her actions and words, never having endorsed or encouraged violence, and yet – she was met with a violent end by the very cowardly criminals she threatened. Her legacy will live on. She is a huge loss to her country, let alone her family.
“Salwa is a true patriot and martyr, whose death marks another turning point in Libyan history. Her martyrdom is a strong reminder of the sacrifices made by people such as herself, that will not be betrayed by the Libyans. God rest her soul and may she rest in peace”.
One of Libya’s leading and most experienced activists, Farida Allaghi was said when contacted by this paper that she was still shaken by the deed . “The criminals silenced the voice of Salwa, the Libyan hero, the courageous voice, the fighter for human rights. However, we shall never, ever be scared or silenced by their terror. Many of us as political activists will not be scared out of the fight for a democratic, civilized Libya. We shall keep on with our long, long struggle”, Allaghi added with an angry determination.
“Today we are mourning the death of our hero Salwa. Today we are more determined to escalate our struggle, more determined in honour of Salwa and all our other martyrs to unite to create a civil democratic front. Only by keeping together: men, women, the elderly and youth – we can keep our fight going. May Allah have mercy on Salwa and my deepest condolences to all her family, friends and your beloved Libya”.
Political and media activist Zahra Langhi said she was “Shocked by the barbaric assassination of Salwa Bughagis. It is the first assassination of a woman due to her political views in Libya”, Langhi noted. “It is so tragic to see the end of one of the heroines of the 17th February Revolution – killed in such a despicable manner. I hope this will be a turning point, an eye opener for all of us, Libyans as well as the international community to seriously address disarmament and demobilization of (DDR) armed groups. Libya’s democratic process will be doomed unless we all commit seriously to DDR.
“Salwa’s passion, bravery and leadership will continue to inspire. Her last words were “regardless of all the disappointments and failures we have to continue to hope in a better Libya.” We owe it to the icon of our revolution to continue to fight for an inclusive, tolerant and peaceful Libya”, she concluded.
Human rights activist Magdulien Z Abaida said that “Salwa was a flame in the darkness. She knew that she was in danger but she believed in her cause. She is a messenger of humanity and peace. She inspired many women and she will continue to inspire hundreds of thousands. Salwa is a great part of Libyan history. Her bio will be taught in our schools”.
Political activist and member of Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) Najat Dau said “I really cannot express my deep sadness, sorrow and feeling of loss at this tragic time. Salwa was a friend, a strong fighter for women’s rights and human rights. She was one of the early and strong supporters of VLW. She attended and actively participated in the first VLW conference ” One Voice ” in November 2011. May Almighty Allah bless her, forgive her and give her family patience”.
Political activist Maysoon Tughar responded: “I am not better than those people who gave their lives. Fearing is not something I know”, to the suggestion by Libya Herald that the murder of Salwa Bughagis might have made Libyan women activists more fearful of having a public profile.
“With deep regret I heard the shocking news of the horrific assassination of Salwa. I had the pleasure of meeting her many times in Benghazi during the 2011 revolution, in New York a few months ago and recently in Amman. I admired this woman’s determination and dedication. She made a difference. Women like her do”.
“She will be remembered and celebrated in our memories. Nothing I can say will bring her back to her children at least” she said regretfully. However, she warned against apathy and inertia noting that that Salwa’s horrific murder “should be a wakeup call to all of the people standing on the side and expecting change to just happen”.
Journalist and human rights activist Heba Alshibani said “Salwa was an amazing woman. Outspoken, courageous, a true daughter of the revolution. We didn’t just lose an activist or a great Libyan women. No, we lost a big part of our hope for the future, and for this to happen on election day sends a strong message to us all: no one is safe anymore”, she warned.
Elham Saudi lawyer and activists from Lawyers For Justice in Libya (LFJL) said “Salwa was an inspiration to us all, as lawyers, activists and women. We value her support of LFJL’s work and will remember in our work going forward to make sure that her memory and tireless fight for human rights and reconciliation are honoured in whatever way possible. We are a lesser nation without her”.
Nisreen Adham head of the Women’s Team at the National Support Group said that her NGO “are stunned and enraged by the brutal murder of one of Libya’s finest women activists. Mrs. Salwa Bughaigis was a phenomenal driving force on many a Libyan issue, and an inspiration, not only to us Libyans, but to all who defend and honour Human rights.
“No words can truly express how we feel. She gave her life to the country and her life was taken by traitors and cowards. For us she is now a Martyr and a legend, and for many, we are now more angry than sad. We will honour her life and work by continuing the fight – each in his own way. We will not give up and we will not be afraid for those who believe in what she stood for will never give up. Our condolences go out to her family and all of Libya for the loss of a wonderful and great Libyan woman. May she rest in peace”.
Political activist Rihab Elhaj said that Salwa Bughaigis “was flawless. She was supporting one of our initiatives just last week. She tried her best to bring good people along with her toward success. I was in awe of her. She will never be a loss if we continue to fight for the things she became a symbol for; Inclusiveness, reason, justice, compassion and peace. She lived to provide for others May her lovely soul rest in the peace and blessings”.
A well-known and leading NGO activist, who has received threats to her life in the past, told Libya Herald anonymously that “Salwa believed in freedom and justice. She dreamed of a free democratic Libyan state, for which she fought and paid the price with her life. She knew she will be killed, and choose to stand up high and proud like a tree. They killed her because she scares them and exposes their crippled, twisted and mutilated souls and minds. Salwa, you were as beautiful as a flower, taken away from us, but flowers will keep growing, even in deserts. We will keep struggling with your spirit Salwa”, she concluded.
Libyan women’s NGO Phoenix said that they were “all deeply saddened that we lost our idol, our mentor, our source of strength and hope Mrs. Salwa Bughaigis. Your steps, your actions, your initiatives, your words have always been and will forever remain a source of strength and inspiration to all of us. We might have lost your beautiful presence but you will forever be in our hearts and we will forever continue to deliver the message you initiated- the message you lived and died for. We will keep going forward and make you proud. Thank you for everything you have done for Libya. May your brave soul rest I peace”.