UN Security Council Condemns Attacks on Libyan Civilians

The United Nations Security Council today condemned the Libyan regime’s use of violence against protesters, as the nation’s deputy ambassador reported a new wave of attacks in the western region by forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi.

“The members of the Security Council condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, and deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators,” Ambassador Maria Viotti of Brazil, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, told reporters.

The council’s 15 member governments agreed on the statement after a private meeting. The panel took no action on punitive measures against Qaddafi’s regime called for by U.S. Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the UN.

“I have received information today that, after the statement by Colonel Qaddafi, the attack on the people started in the western part of Libya,” Dabbashi told reporters after the meeting, referring to Qaddafi’s speech on Libyan state television.

“Certainly the people have no arms and I think the genocide started now in Libya,” Dabbashi said. “I think the Qaddafi statement was a code for his collaborators to start the genocide against the Libyan people. They are attacking people in all the cities in Western Libya.”

Council Demands

Viotta said the Security Council also called for an “immediate end to the violence,” access for human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies, and international aid.

The council met at the request of Dabbashi, who yesterday broke with Qaddafi’s regime and called its attacks on peaceful protesters “genocide.” He asked the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, block any movement of arms or mercenaries into the country, ensure safe passage for humanitarian supplies, and investigate crimes allegedly committed by the regime.

Mohammed Shalgham, Libya’s ambassador to the UN, attended the meeting but made no requests of the panel, according to Egypt’s Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, who attended the private meeting.

“The situation is deteriorating and can get much worse,” Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe told reporters after briefing the Security Council. “We are deeply concerned. The idea of attacks on your own civilian population is totally unacceptable. This must stop.”

UN Evacuation

Pascoe said the UN has “fewer than 30” international staff in Libya, and was preparing to evacuate them.

Shalgham told reporters that while he is calling for an end to the “bloodshed” and changes that include a new constitution for Libya, he doesn’t blame Qaddafi for violence in his country and doesn’t agree with Dabbashi’s requests to the UN.

“Qaddafi is my friend,” Shalgham said. “I can criticize him but I cannot attack him. He is very brave.”

Shalgham also said that he would resign unless the violence ended.

Qaddafi, in comments broadcast on state television today, said he hasn’t fled the country amid the eruption of violence. The International Federation for Human Rights says more than 300 people have been killed. Planes and helicopters fired on protesters and witnesses reported massacres in two neighborhoods of Tripoli, Al Arabiya TV said.

Dabbashi yesterday called for Qaddafi’s resignation and, in appearances on international television networks, asked for an emergency meeting of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to investigate alleged human rights violations.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, released a statement today in Geneva calling for an “independent international investigation” of the unrest. Five UN experts on human rights issues condemned the violence and said in a statement that it might amount to “crimes against humanity.”