Thank you, Madame Chair.
I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with five Bulgarian nurses.
Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.
Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death. All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners.
Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?
On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress and compensatory measures:
One: The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.
Two: Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.
Three: In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.
Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination.
But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family, who gave over thirty years serving your country, only to be kicked out from their home, threatened with death, and subjected to state terrorism?
How can your government chair the planning committee for a world conference on discrimination, when it is on the list of the world’s worst of the worst, when it comes to discrimination and human rights violations?
When will your government recognize their crimes, apologize to me, to my colleagues, and to our families?
This week, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, the five nurses and I will present our complaint and compensation claim against Libya, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual petitions.
The slogan for this Conference is “Dignity and justice for all.” Does this include your own country’s victims of discrimination?
Thank you, Madame Chair.
On April 17, 2009, two days before the historic Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, and the opening of the Durban Review Conference, Dr. Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj announced the delivery of the legal complaint he is filing, along with 5 Bulgarian nurses to the UN Human Rights Council.
Dr. El Houjouj, and his colleagues were illegally scapegoated and imprisoned for the HIV epidimic that broke out at Bengazi Hospital in 1999. All six medical professionals were brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death so that the Libyan government could shift the blame for their unsafe hospitals onto foreigners. “The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.” Said Dr. El Hojouj, who addressed Mrs. Najjat Al-Hajjaji, the Libyan chair of the proceedings. “Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.”
Mrs. Al-Hajjaji was visibly uncomforatable and interrupted Dr. El-Hojouj three times during his testimony. She broke every rule of chairmanship and then gave Libya the floor to make an objection, and finally cut him off. Nevertheless, he was able to speak the important truth. The room was gripped, and Dr. El Houjouj spoke out for himself, his colleagues, and the many people still in Libya who have no voice of their own. Both Dr. Dr. El-Hojouj and Bulagrian nurse Kristiyna Valcheva will testify before the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, this Sunday, 19 April 2009. Dr. El-Hojouj will be able to deliver his full speech — without interruptions.