LIBYA/QATAR: Alleged rape victim Eman Obeidy reportedly beaten, deported back to Libya
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Alleged Libyan rape victim Eman Obeidy grabbed the world’s attention and became a symbol of the uprising against embattled Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi when she stormed into a Tripoli hotel in late March, telling a group of journalists having breakfast how she had been gang-raped and beaten by a band of Kadafi militiamen who held her prisoner for two days.
Now she has been beaten again, this time not by Kadafi’s security forces but allegedly by a number of Qatari officials whom she claimed handcuffed and hit her before putting her and members of her family onto a military plane going back to Libya, CNN reports.
According to the network, Qatari authorities took Obeidy and her parents from a Doha hotel and forced the three to board a plane early Thursday that landed in rebel-held Benghazi. Hours before her forced deportation, Obeidy said armed guards were hovering outside her hotel room and stopping representatives from the UN refugee agency UNHCR from helping her.
UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards slammed Qatar’s expelling of Obeidy in a news briefing on Friday, saying the agency had planned to take her to a temporary shelter in an Eastern European country and that she was prevented from taking a flight there at the last minute.
‘Yesterday’s forced return of Libyan national, Eman Al Obeidi, by Qatar to Libya violates international law,’ he said. ‘Ms Al Obeidi has been recognized as a refugee by UNHCR. UNHCR was present at the hotel where Ms Al Obeidi was staying in Qatar, ready to accompany her to the airport to travel to an emergency transit centre in Romania. She was prevented from leaving for this flight in the early hours of Thursday morning.’
Edwards added that the UN refugee agency was seeking to meet with Obeidy in Benghazi and trying to assist her and her family there.
The reason for Obeidy’s sudden deportation was not immediately clear. Obeidy herself had told a reporter that members of the Libyan Transitional National Council had ratcheted up pressure on the Qataris to throw her out of the country, according to CNN.
A diplomatic source told the Reuters news agency that the Qatar-based Libyan rebels had requested the Qatari government return Obeidy to eastern Libya.
Obeidy managed to flee from Libya to Tunisia last month through the help of a couple of defected Kadafi army officers and their family members. French diplomats then drove her from the Tunisian border and handed her over to Libyan rebel officials, members of the Transitional National Council, who put her on a flight to Qatar where she reportedly arrived on May 11.
--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut