Seham Sergiwa

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Seham Sergiwa[1]
Native name
سهام سرقيوة[2]
Born1963 (age 55–56)[citation needed]
Disappeared17 July 2019
Benghazi, Libya
StatusMissing for 1 month and 1 day[3]
ResidenceBenghazi, Libya
OccupationPsychologist[4]
Known forDocumenting rape as a weapon of war during the 2011 Libyan Civil War[4][5] and publicly speaking against Khalifa Haftar war.
Member of the Libya Parliament
for Benghazi
Assumed office
2014[6]
Majority5,883[6]

Seham Sergiwa[1] (Arabic: سهام سرقيوةSahām Sarqīwa;[2] also Romanized Siham, Sirqiwa, Sergewa,[5] Sirghua[6]; born 1963[citation needed]) is a Libyan psychologist[4] elected to the Libyan parliament in 2014.[6] She was abducted by a Libyan National Army militia loyal to Khalifa Haftar on 17 July 2019. [7] The United Nations Support Mission in Libya expressed its deep concern and stated that "silencing the voices of women in decision-making positions [would] not be tolerated."[8] As of 7 August 2019, Sergiwa's location was unknown.[8]

Research career[edit]

Sergiwa is a psychologist[4] who received her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of London[9]. She lived there until the late 2000s, working as a psychologist with patients and in research at Guy's Hospital. She returned to Libya a few years before the Arab Spring, and was one of the first protesters on the streets protesting against Gaddafi's government.[citation needed]

In 2011, Sergiwa investigated the use of rape as a weapon of war during the 2011 Libyan Civil War. She documented 300 rapes during the war and estimates that in total, 6000 women were raped. She stated that five of Muammar Gaddafi's personal women bodyguards were raped and sexually abused by Gaddafi, and "then passed onto senior officials as sexual playthings". She found that pro-government soldiers were given viagra and condoms in order to encourage them to carry out rapes.[4] Sergiwa's investigative methods included travelling to refugee camps on the borders with Tunisia and Egypt; distributing questionnaires to the refugees and receiving 50,000 responses.[5] All the rape claims were attributed to government soldiers. Reports on gang rapes included being held for several days and being raped by up to 15 men. Sergiwa's documentation was provided to the International Criminal Court investigation in Libya.[5]

Member of parliament[edit]

Sergiwa was elected with 5,883 votes, third out of the women candidates for Benghazi, with more votes than the most popular man, in the 2014 Libyan parliamentary election.[6] This was described[who?] as a revolutionary step for Libya, as few women held power in Libya during the preceding decades. As of July 2019, she was considered to be one of the most prominent Libyan politicians fighting for democracy and equal rights.[citation needed]

Disappearance[edit]

Sergiwa's home was invaded at about 01:30am[citation needed] on 17 July 2019 by 25-30 masked, uniformed members of a Libyan National Army militia, the 106th Brigade, loyal to Khalifa Haftar.[3] Electricity was cut to the region, and army vehicles flooded the region to prevent any family member's escape or Benghazi police arrival. Sergiwa's husband was shot in the legs and one of her sons, a fourteen-year-old boy, was beaten by the 106th Brigade forces. Both were hospitalized and prevented from being visited by family members. A guard was placed to keep them in the hospital.[10] The security forces graffitied "Don't cross the line of the armies" on the house walls, issuing a warning to all those who want to speak out against Haftar.[3]

On 3 August, Noman Benotman, a former fighter of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group living in the United Kingdom, claimed that Sergiwa had been killed on the first day of her abduction by the Awliaa al-Dam brigade loyal to the LNA.[11]

Reactions[edit]

The Libyan House of Representatives issued a statement holding Haftar "legally and morally" responsible for the detention and "for jeopardizing her life".[12] The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) stated on 18 July that "Enforced disappearance, unlawful arrest and abduction based on political views or affiliations constitute a serious blow to the rule of law and blatant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law" in response to the detention and disappearance and that "Silencing the voices of women in decision-making position will not be tolerated."[13]

Media around the world reported Sergiwa's detention and disappearance, including NBC,[1] CNN,[14] Thomson Reuters,[15] Associated Press,[16] The Washington Post,[17] The New York Times,[18] Al Jazeera,[2] BBC Arabic,[19] Libya Al Ahrar TV,[20] and Libya Akhbar.[21]

On 7 August, UNSMIL stated that it was "highly concerned about the safety and security of Ms. Sergewa and stresses that the relevant authorities are responsible for the safety and security of the people under their territorial control including in this case of prolonged enforced disappearance." UNSMIL stated that "silencing the voices of women in decision-making positions [would] not be tolerated and [reiterated] its strong commitment to support the crucial role Libyan women play in peacemaking and peacebuilding and their full participation and involvement in the country's political life and decision-making".[8]

Points of view[edit]

According to Madrid-based academic Barah Mikail, Sergiwa is "an independent person, which is why all sides of the Libyan conflict got angry with her at some point" and she is "against anything that stood in the way of building or consolidating the country's interests and the Libyan nation."[3] In an interview a few hours before she was detained, she criticised Haftar's 2019 attack on Tripoli and stated that "even the extremists, on either side, have the right to participate" in a unity government involving all sidea in the conflict.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Givetash, Linda (22 July 2019). "American family of kidnapped Libyan politician pleads for her return". NBC. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "قانون الغاب في بنغازي.. مليشيات تختطف نائبة وتصفي معتقلين". Al Jazeera. 18 July 2019. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lister, Tim; Bashir, Nada (20 July 2019). "She's one of the most prominent female politicians in her country. A few days ago she was abducted from her house". CNN. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Squires, Nick (29 August 2011). "Gaddafi and his sons 'raped female bodyguards'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Sidner, Sara; Ahmed, Amir (23 May 2011). "Psychologist: Proof of hundreds of rape cases during Libya's war". CNN. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Paton, Callum; Seraj, Essul (22 July 2014). "ELECTIONS 2014: Final results for House of Representative elections announced". Libya Herald. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  7. ^ correspondent, Jason Burke Africa (31 July 2019). "Abducted Libyan MP's relatives in US sound alarm over torture fears". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "UNSMIL Statement on the Continued Enforced Disappearance of House of Representative Member Siham Sergawa". UNSMIL. 7 August 2019. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/31/abducted-libyan-mp-seham-sergiwa-torture-fears
  10. ^ CNN_Sergewa_abducted
  11. ^ "Head of Quilliam Foundation: Libyan MP Sirgiwa has been killed". Libyan Express. 3 August 2019. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  12. ^ "American family of kidnapped Libyan politician pleads for her return". NBC News.
  13. ^ "UNSMIL deplores enforced disappearance of elected HoR Member Ms. Sergewa, calling for her immediate release". UNSMIL. 18 July 2019.
  14. ^ CNN, Tim Lister and Nada Bashir. "She's one of the most prominent female politicians in her country. A few days ago she was abducted from her house". CNN.
  15. ^ "U.N. demands release of abducted lawmaker and Haftar critic in..." 18 July 2019 – via af.reuters.com.
  16. ^ Elhennawy, Noha (21 July 2019). "Libya's largest oil field shut down over pipeline closure". AP NEWS.
  17. ^ "Libya's UN-backed government says female lawmaker abducted". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  18. ^ Press, The Associated (18 July 2019). "Libya's UN-Backed Government Says Female Lawmaker Abducted" – via NYTimes.com.
  19. ^ "اختطاف النائبة في البرلمان الليبي سهام سرقيوه من منزلها". 19 July 2019 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "اختطاف النائبة سهام سرقيوة من بيتها ببنغازي". ليبيا الأحرار. 17 July 2019.
  21. ^ "مجهولون يختطفون النائب سهام سرقيوة بعد اقتحام منزلها - اخبار ليبيا الان". 18 July 2019.