Petition to free Libyan rape claim woman

A PETITION demanding the release of a young Libyan woman who stormed into a Tripoli hotel full of journalists and accused government soldiers of raping her was well on the way to reaching its target of half a million signatures on Saturday.

A petition demanding the release of a young Libyan women who stormed into a Tripoli hotel full of journalists and accused government soldiers of raping her was well on the way to reaching its target of half a million signatures on Saturday.

The woman, Iman al-Obeidi, achieved worldwide celebrity after footage of her bursting into the Rixos hotel at breakfast time last Saturday and throwing open her coat to reveal scars and bruises on her body, was posted on the Internet.

“Words cannot express the courage Iman showed in speaking out – and we can only imagine the terror she must be facing right now in the hands of (Muammar) Gaddafi’s infamous thugs,” said Avaaz.org, organiser of the online campaign.

As she screamed: “Film me, film me, show the whole world all they did to me,” she was dragged off by security guards amid scenes of mayhem while foreign journalists who tried to intervene were shoved aside.

“They tied me up and abused me for two days,” she said of regime troops manning a Tripoli checkpoint adding they targetted her because she came from the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi, where the insurgency against Gaddafi erupted.

The petition, which had garnered the support of some 437,500 people by Saturday afternoon, will be delivered by hand to the Turkish consulate in Benghazi as soon as it reaches its target of 500,000 signatures.

It is addressed to the Turkish government because “Gaddafi will ignore most international outrage, but he listened to the Turkish government when they asked him to release foreign journalists.”

Facebook groups in support of Obeidi have mushroomed online.

Government spokesman Musa Ibrahim had told AFP the investigation was continuing as some of the troops lodged a complaint for defamation and because “she has refused to undergo medical examination” to prove she had been raped.

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