In memoriam Salwa Bugaighis

libya01On June 25, 2014, Salwa Bugaighis was stabbed and shot in her home in Benghazi, just after casting her vote in the Libyan general elections. She had been receiving threats from Islamic extremists for some time already. Salwa was one of the founders of the Libyan Women’s Peace Platform, a partner within Women on the Frontline. Salwa played a very active role in the 2011 revolt against Colonel Qaddafi. Her hometown Benghazi was a stronghold of resistance against the dictator in the first half of that year.

After the fall of Qaddafi, the struggle entered a new phase of striving for democracy, women's rights, freedom and security. Salwa, trained as a lawyer, displayed great perseverance and humanity as she searched relentlessly for opportunities for positive change. She was a member of the National Transitional Council and played a key part in the development of the new Libyan Constitution. Salwa can rightfully be called one of the driving forces in Libya’s political transition.

When she was invited to the Netherlands by Hivos at the beginning of 2012, we experienced her charisma first-hand during meetings with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Members of Parliament and journalists. She proved a brave leader and worthy advocate for a democratic Libya: quiet but determined, and with a sympathetic ear for her interlocutors. When she was a member of the transitional government, more rights for women and disarmament were placed high on its agenda.

However, after a few months she gave up her seat in protest at the lack of women in the new government. People who knew and worked with her have described the day Salwa was murdered as the day when a part of Libya died a sad death - the part that has fought tooth and nail against lawlessness and lack of freedom.

We support the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace in their continuous efforts for justice and full and equal participation for all Libyan women. Together with El-Karama they started a campaign called “Justice for Salwa is Justice for All”, asking for Justice for Salwa and all other women in the region who fall victim to violence and abuse.

For an impression of her impressive persona, please watch this short video: