Spotlight on the Middle East – Libya and Egypt: Where did we go wrong?

On 2 April 2014 the AHRCentre hosted two inspirational human rights advocates, Hassan al-Amin and Tirana Hassan, who spoke about the Arab uprising in Libya and Egypt and the ongoing struggle for democracy in the Middle East. The audience learned about Hassan’s experiences as a political dissident in exile for 28 years and his return to Libya in the midst of the uprising in 2011, where he risked his life to document and publicise human rights violations. The weaknesses of the judicial system in Libya, which is currently incapable of guaranteeing a fair trial for those involved in the conflict, were compared with the culture of impunity in Egypt for human rights abuses. Tirana Hassan provided insight into the logistics of field research in conflict zones and the importance of protecting the safety of victims while giving them the opportunity to be heard.

Both speakers considered the question ‘Where did we go wrong?’ in the Middle East, drawing on examples from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia to stress that for democracy to succeed in the Middle East, it must be based on a foundation of strong institutions, civil society and an independent judiciary.

Hassan al-Amin is a Libyan human rights advocate and founder of the independent website Libya al-Mostakbal (The Future Libya). After fleeing Libya in 1983, Hassan became one of the Gaddafi regime’s most active dissidents in exile and is a key partner of Human Rights Watch. He continues to expose human rights violations in Libya and promote the development of democracy.

Tirana Hassan is the Senior Researcher in the Emergencies Division of Human Rights Watch. She works on the ground in crises and conflict zones to document violations of human rights as they happen. Her humanitarian work allows information to reach decision-makers and international institutions so that immediate action can be taken while these crises are still occurring.

To hear the podcast of this seminar, click here