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Libya: Fighting For Equality Should Not Equal Death - Justice For Salwa Is Justice For All

It’s been nine months since human rights lawyer Salwa Bugaighis, a revolutionary leader for equal rights and political participation for women, and a key player in Libya's 2011 revolution, was assassinated. 

Salwa devoted her life to advocating for democracy and was brutally murdered shortly after publically casting her vote in Libya’s national election. To date, Libyan authorities have not investigated Salwa’s murder or identified the perpetrators. The ongoing terror against human rights defenders, particularly women, continues with impunity.

Salwa is not the only one. She represents the millions of women and human rights activists striving to promote equality and women’s rights, who are being threatened, harassed, brutally attacked or murdered, in increasingly lawless environments. Condemning the escalating violence on activists, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated, “[t]he climate of fear created by such attacks, coupled with the total impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, threatens to silence the few independent voices emerging from within the country.”

We cannot tolerate this ongoing violence and lack of justice. In recognition of the millions of victims of violence who are silenced and do not get the justice they deserve, Equality Now, Karama and the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace need your help. Please support the Justice for Salwa is Justice for All campaign, which puts pressure on international bodies and regional governments to hold perpetrators of violence against women in the Arab region to account. It also raises awareness of the ongoing struggles women face -- the threat of rape, physical and sexual abuse, trafficking, “honor killings”, ongoing exclusion from civil and political life and peacemaking processes, female genital mutilation, trafficking and death.

This year is a landmark year for women’s rights and gender equality. We celebrate 20 years since the creation of the Beijing Platform for Action, one of the most progressive plans to advance women's rights and achieve gender equality, and 15 years since UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women’s participation in civil and political life, was passed. This year the UN will also negotiate the new post-2015 development agenda that will define the next 15 years. Karama, the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace and Equality Now firmly stand behind the numerous calls for women and civil society’s active and full participation in promoting democracy and influencing legal reforms. However, without security for these activists, calls for women’s participation, inclusion and equality are empty. Security and justice for violence against women and girls must be at the center of the international agenda. It is imperative that we act now.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW!

1. Call on the UN Secretary General and the Security Council to:

  • Immediately launch an independent international investigation into Salwa’s murder and the specific situation of women in Libya
  • Prioritize security for women’s participation in civil and political life in all UN mission mandates
  • Fully implement the articles of UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (1325, 1820,1888, 1889, et al)

Letters should be addressed to:
H.E. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General
United Nations, S-3800
New York, NY 10017
USA
Email: sg@un.org
Fax: +1 212-963-2155

2. Call on the President of the UN General Assembly to urgently prioritize security and justice for women’s participation and inclusion in the development agenda.

Letters should be addressed to:
H.E. Sam Kahamba Kutesa
Office of the President of the General Assembly
United Nations, CB-0246
New York, NY 10017
USA
Email: ojwange@un.org

3. Stand in solidarity with the millions of women who are speaking out against exclusion, oppression, coercion and violence and join the Justice for Salwa is Justice for All campaign today.

Letters: 

Letter to the UN Secretary General 
Dear Secretary General:

In June 2014, Salwa Bugaighis, a revolutionary leader and human rights lawyer, was assassinated in Libya. Salwa devoted her life to advocating for democracy and was brutally murdered  – shortly after publically casting her vote in Libya’s national election. Salwa was one of the first women to take part in the revolution that brought down the Qaddafi regime and was an original member of Libya’s National Transitional Council. Salwa struggled tirelessly to ensure womenʼs participation in decision-making and society, and resigned from her position to protest the lack of women in the new government. Yet since her brutal assassination, Libyan authorities have not investigated Salwa’s murder or identified the perpetrators. The ongoing terror against human rights defenders, particularly women, continues with impunity. 

I ask you to call on the UN Security Council, and others as appropriate, to immediately initiate an independent international investigation into the assassination of Salwa Bugaighis. An impartial investigation is urgently needed to assist the Libyan government in identifying the perpetrators and to help promote a culture of security and accountability where women leaders and human rights defenders are not brutally attacked and perpetrators of violence are held accountable. Women’s security and access to justice should be prioritized and implemented in all Security Council work, including mission mandates. Justice for Salwa is Justice for All. 

Thank you for your attention.

Letter to the President of the UN General Assembly

Your Excellency,

I am seriously concerned about the insecurity that surrounds women and civil society organizations that are fighting to promote equality and women’s rights, especially in increasingly lawless environments.
In June 2014, Salwa Bugaighis, a revolutionary leader and human rights lawyer who devoted her life to advocating for democracy was brutally assassinated shortly after publically casting her vote in Libya’s national election. There has been little or no investigation into her murder and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. And she is not the only one. Salwa represents the millions of women around the world who are fighting for equality, peace, and democracy and who are targeted, attacked or brutally assassinated as they exercise their rights. She represents the many civil society organizations fearlessly trying to promote and protect women’s rights and inclusion, in often insecure and hostile environments where perpetrators act with impunity.

This year, the UN is negotiating new goals that will shape the next 15 years of the development agenda. These goals must include security and justice for women and women’s civil society organizations as a requirement for achieving gender equality and political inclusion. It is imperative that women leaders and human rights’ defenders are protected and that perpetrators of violence against them are held accountable. 

I urgently call on you as the President of the General Assembly to lead the UN General Assembly in making security and justice for women’s participation and inclusion a priority within the development agenda. Women and human rights defenders cannot wait another 15 years!

Thank you for your attention.

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