ICC seeks UN help in arresting 3 Libyan fugitives

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor requested help from the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to arrest three fugitives in Libya. (Wikimedia Commons: Hypergio)
Updated 10 May 2018

ICC seeks UN help in arresting 3 Libyan fugitives

UNITED NATIONS: The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor requested help from the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to arrest three fugitives in Libya, including a military commander serving under strongman Khalifa Haftar and a son of the late leader Muammar Qaddafi.
During a UN Security Council meeting, Fatou Bensouda noted that ICC investigators had traveled to Libya in March for the first time since June 2012 to help advance investigations on alleged war crimes.
“I repeat my call to this council to engage with my office and lend your support in assisting with strategies for the arrest and surrender of ICC fugitives in Libya,” she said about the fugitives.
“Greater deterrence can only be assured through the arrest and surrender of suspects to the ICC so that they may answer the charges against them.”
The prosecutor warned she “will not hesitate” to request new arrest warrants to hold the suspects responsible.
Among those targeted is Seif Al-Islam Qaddafi, whose whereabouts have been unknown since June 2014. Bensouda said she was unsure whether he was being held.
Warrants are also out for the arrests of former security chief Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, accused of war crimes committed in 2011, and Busayf Al-Werfalli, a commander of the Al-Saiqa brigade wanted for the cold-blooded execution of 33 people and other war crimes.
Werfalli has been accused of more crimes since an August 2017 arrest warrant against him, according to Bensouda.
Bensouda has appealed directly to Haftar to ensure Werfalli’s arrest.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed its longtime dictator Qaddafi, with two rival authorities vying for control.
Haftar supports an administration based in the east of the country. A UN-backed unity government based in the capital has struggled to assert its authority outside the west.
Werfalli’s “immediate arrest and surrender is now more important than ever,” Bensouda said.
In addition to accountability, his arrest would “send a clear message to would-be perpetrators that such reprehensible crimes will not be tolerated and that there will be real consequences for the commission of such crimes,” the prosecutor added.


Time is on her side: Indian grandmother joins top 100 list

Updated 30 September 2020

Time is on her side: Indian grandmother joins top 100 list

  • US magazine hails Bilkis, 82, as ‘symbol of resistance’ over citizenship protests

NEW DELHI: As the black SUV pulled up outside her village, 82-year-old Bilkis could see a group of people waiting with garlands and big smiles on their faces.

They approached her one by one, and as she slowly stepped out of the car, some greeted her with a “namaste” or “salaam,” while others queued to take a selfie.

It has been a week since Bilkis was named by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people for 2020 list, but the “dadi” (grandmother) of Kurana village, nearly 70 km west of New Delhi, says she is still getting used to all the attention.

“This is new to me. I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” she said.

“I was born in this village and married here, too, but never greeted this way by the villagers. It seems I have done something that has touched them,“ Bilkis, who uses one name, told Arab News.

A mother of six and grandmother of 17, Bilkis has never been to school, and can neither read nor write.

But she gained prominence earlier this year when she joined several other young and older women in a three-month demonstration in New Delhi’s Muslim-dominated Shaheen Bagh neighborhood, protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), while braving harsh winter temperatures in the capital.

“I sat on the street from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day for 101 days without a break,” Bilkis said.

On Sept. 22, Time magazine honored her for being “the symbol of resistance in a nation where the voices of women and minorities are being systematically drowned out by the majoritarian politics” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime.

More accolades are in order.

On Tuesday, a women’s group said the magazine’s “recognition of Bilkis comes at a dark time when anyone who stands for justice, equality and democratic rights are being put behind bars.”

According to Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, Bilkis represents the “resolve of the women to safeguard democracy and the secularism of the constitution.” 

The CAA grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis from the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but excludes Muslims. 

It is part of a proposed National Register of Citizenship (NRC), an initiative to identify “genuine citizens” of India. 

However, many Muslims fear the exercise will leave them “stateless” and drive them out of the country.

Opposing the move, Indians from all walks of life, faiths and communities began protesting last December, culminating in violent clashes with police at New Delhi’s Jamia Milia University in March.

“When I saw students on TV being beaten by police for protesting against the CAA, I decided to join the protest in Shaheen Bagh,” Bilkis said.

For three months, protesters occupied one of the capital’s busiest areas, with the sit-in ending on March 25 after the government announced a nationwide lockdown to limit the coronavirus outbreak.

Bilkis said she didn’t expect the protests would last that long, but would “do it all over again” if necessary. 

“I was born here and I will die here,” Bilkis said, referring to Kurana village, where she has lived for more than 70 years.

“I am not fighting for myself, I have lived my life, but I am fighting for the new generation who have their whole life in front of them. We are the citizens of the country. Our forefathers were born here. Where will we go if we leave?”

She blamed the government for encouraging religious violence in New Delhi in February when more than 50 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives.

“This government is creating a wall of hatred and has arrested innocent people. They should be released. This is an atrocity against the students,” she said.

“Hindus and Muslims have existed together in harmony for ages; why does the government want to create religious disharmony?” she said.

A young villager, Zaid Khan, who has been listening to Bilkis, nods his head before sharing his opinion.

“Dadi (grandma) is fighting for us, and we have to stand by her. I am happy the issue is being highlighted again. The law has only one aim — to target Muslims,” Khan said.

Manzoor Ahmad, Bilkis’ son, said that while the entire family is proud of her achievements, their “real win” would be for the CAA to be withdrawn.

Bilkis joins other Indian women, including Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, and celebrated lawyers Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, to be featured by Time magazine in recent years.