Amnesty International cites growing concern for life of abducted Libyan lawmaker

Siham Sirgiwa is a member of the House of Representatives in Libya. [Photo: Internet]

Amnesty International voiced growing concern Friday for the safety of a Libyan lawmaker after her “horrific” night-time abduction in the city of Benghazi.

Siham Sergewa disappeared on July 17 in an attack that also allegedly saw her husband shot in the leg, shortly after she spoke on Al-Hadath television which backs eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.

She called during the broadcast for “an end to the bloodshed”, referring to an offensive launched in April by Haftar’s forces to wrest control of Tripoli from those loyal to a unity government.

“The horrific abduction… illustrates the acute dangers facing publicly active women in Libya who dare to express criticism of militias,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Magdalena Mughrabi.

“Fears for her safety are growing by the day,” she added in a statement from the rights group.”

The United Nations called on July 18 for an investigation into Sergewa’s disappearance and for her immediate release.

The lawmaker “appears to have come under attack as punishment for peacefully expressing her opinions and criticising” Haftar’s offensive, Mughrabi said.

Witness testimony indicated the attackers were affiliated with Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, which controls Benghazi, the statement added.

Amnesty said Sergewa’s husband had been shot in the leg during the attack and her 16-year-old son “badly beaten.”

After the assault, graffiti was left in the house reading “the army is a red line”, the rights group said, quoting a witness as saying that the attackers arrived in cars marked with the words “military police”.

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