Conflict In Libya


Last month, Iman al-Obeidi appeared at a hotel in Tripoli where international journalists are staying.�She told them that she had been gang-raped and beaten by Gadhafi troops at a checkpoint.

Ms. IMAN AL-OBEIDI: (Shouting in foreign language)

NORRIS: She was ultimately dragged out of the hotel, and she hasn't been heard from since. Well, NPR reached her by phone today - though we have no way of independently verifying her account, as Libyan authorities have not allowed access to her.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has the latest on the story, from Tripoli.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Since Iman al-Obeidi's disappearance 10 days ago, journalists here in Tripoli have been asking daily for news of her whereabouts. The government spokesman has given excuse after excuse as to why she hasn't spoken to the press.

NPR was finally able to reach her by phone in Tripoli. She says she's been desperately trying to speak to the media but has been unable to reach the hotel where we're staying.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I arrived at the gates, but they stopped me from going into the hotel, she says. They kicked me out. When I got out, there was a car filled with military people, and they took me away and detained me. I had to call my sister to rescue me.

Iman says she's been detained at least three times since she came to the hotel late last month - and repeatedly beaten, she says, by thugs in the pay of the regime.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't go out into the streets anymore. They treat me as a terrorist every time I go out, she says. A car stops me, and it's filled with armed civilians who beat me and then take me to the security forces.

The security forces always let her go, and apologize. They say there's nothing they can do. Iman says it's a ploy to silence her while keeping their hands clean.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They attack me and prevent me from going out, only to instill fear in me, she says. After making her allegations public to journalists here at the Rixos hotel late last month, she says she was taken to a doctor to verify she was raped. And then she testified in front of a prosecutor, bringing eyewitnesses to her violation to substantiate her claims. But she says so far...

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Until now, no police have gone to examine the place I was raped in, nor have they detained the people responsible, she says. They lie to the media that they have detained people, but they haven't taken any measures. She hasn't even been asked to identify her attackers, she says - more proof that they haven't investigated her allegations. She says the lawyers who have been appointed to represent her have asked her to deny that she was raped by Gadhafi's troops.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They said I shouldn't mention that Gadhafi's military kidnapped me, she says. Even the lawyers who are supposedly working for me want me to change my testimony. Iman says she's gone repeatedly to try and see the public prosecutor, but to no avail. He will not meet with her. She says since the rape and her subsequent notoriety, her life has become a living hell. The government spokesman has publicly called her a prostitute and a liar.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They have distorted my image in front of Libya and the world, she says. They have slandered my reputation. She says she has a law degree, and comes from a prominent eastern Libyan family. Iman says her sister in Tripoli is also being terrorized.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Of course I fear for my life and my family's life, she says. Yesterday, I was beaten so hard that I can't even leave my bed today. When asked why she's risking speaking to the media again, she says she has no choice. We are suffocated, she says; we are kidnapped and beaten.

The government here was not immediately available to comment on her claims. Iman al-Obeidi finished her interview in tears.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There is no law. This is a country with no law, she says.

Ms. AL-OBEIDI: (Speaking foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a country of gangs.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from