Eman al-Obeidy, the Libyan woman who said she was gang-raped by militia men loyal to Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi and fled the country in early May only to be deported back by the Qatari government on Thursday, has now left Libya again and is on her way to Malta with her father, a high-level State Department source told CNN.
The State Department source said a representative from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is accompanying al-Obeidy. She will eventually head to a refugee-processing center in Europe before permanently resettling in another country.
Al-Obeidy grabbed international headlines in March when she burst into a Tripoli hotel popular with journalists to tell them she had been raped and beaten. She was immediately removed by security guards and detained for several days.
Al-Obeidy fled to Tunisia at the beginning of May, and then to Qatar where she had been staying in a hotel in the capital city of Doha with her family awaiting resettlement. The Qatari government forced her back to Libya on Thursday. She appeared to have been beaten before being deported.
Nasha Dawaji, a U.S.-based Libyan pro-freedom activist, said she was with three key members of Libya’s Transitional National Council when they first learned that al-Obeidy was forced from Doha and arrived in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. She said al-Obeidy had a black eye, bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms.
The council members were upset upon seeing al-Obeidy’s condition and vowed to open an investigation, Dawaji said.
According to reports, the Qatari government deported al-Obeidy because she had criticized Libyan rebels in Qatar.
From The Washington Post:
Obaidi had been under pressure from the rebels to return to her home country for some time, and had come under fire for complaining about the lack of support she had received from the rebels and in particular from rebel official Mahmoud Shammam in Doha.
“Mahmoud Shammam had been giving her a hard time,” said Mohamed Ali, an official from the city council of the rebel-held city of Misurata, who is now based in Doha. “It is very counterproductive what Shammam has done.”
Another official, who declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said the rebels had asked the Qatari authorities to send her home. Qatar has been a major backer of the Libyan rebel movement.
On Thursday, the United States signaled its concern and expressed disappointment at her deportation, saying it was “a breach of humanitarian norms.”
Today, CNN’s State Department source said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has been deeply interested in the case and has followed it throughout.”
CNN, which has interviewed al-Obeidy, said she told the network “on repeated occasions that she wants to go the United States.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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