Death of POC Fathi al-Jahmi

May 21, 2009

Fathi Al-Jahmi became an activist for democracy in the 1970s. When he was a provincial governor in 2002, he criticized Muammar al-Gadhafi’s authoritarian regime, calling for free elections, a free press, and the release of political prisoners.  The same year, he was sentenced to five years for speaking out against the government.  He was released in 2004 and arrested again a month later.

Fathi el-JahmiDespite modest improvements in the human rights field in Libya, all forms of public expression, association and assembly are tightly controlled by the authorities. Any form of group activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the al-Fateh Revolution of 1 September 1969, which brought Libya’s leader Colonel Mu‘ammar Al-Gaddafi to power, is criminalized by law.

Despite his deteriorating health, El-Jahmi never ceased his campaign for change, indicating in a 2005 interview with Physicians for Human Rights Dr. Dan Otter that he is “struggling for human rights, for democracy, for this country [and] will call for democracy and transparency in Libya”.

In a statement, Amnesty International said:

Amnesty International is greatly distressed by the news of the death of Libyan opposition leader Fathi el-Jahmi earlier today in an Amman, Jordan, hospital following his recent “release” and transfer from detention at the Tripoli Medical Center in Libya.

An advocate of political reform, he was detained in Libya in March 2004 and held without charge or trial, most recently at the Tripoli Medical Center.  Approximately two weeks ago, he was flown to Jordan for medical treatment.

Amnesty International is still seeking clarification from the Libyan authorities as to the circumstances in which el-Jahmi, who was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, became seriously ill and was transferred to Jordan.

For more information, see Physicians for Human Rights, World Bulletin News, or News24.