Paying tribute

Libyan freedom fighter Salwa Bugaighis remembered one year after her murder

Prominent dignitaries convened to commemorate her exemplary life

Libyan freedom fighter Salwa Bugaighis who was shot to death in her home ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty Images
On the one-year anniversary of Libyan human rights defender Salwa Bugaighis’s murder, prominent activists, diplomats and politicians from around the world convened in Cairo and The Hague to commemorate her life. Bugaighis was a formidable human rights lawyer and political activist who played a prominent role during the 2011 Libyan revolution that overthrew the 42-year-old oppressive government of Muammar Qaddafi. During the political anarchy that followed Qaddafi’s fall, Bugaighis was gunned down in her home in Benghazi by unknown assailants on June 25, 2014, and her husband was kidnapped. A year after the assassination, no one has been charged with Bugaighis’s murder.

During the commemoration, she was hailed as a “tireless patriot” for peace, a “heroine,” “a model of strong Arab women,” and a “symbol for goodness and strength.” Comments were also made on the current state of Libya. Mohammed al-Dairi, Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “A year on from Salwa’s martyrdom, where she paid a high price for her principles and values, Libya’s situation is getting worse. Militias are attacking government institutions, civil society organisations and citizens, jeopardizing Libya’s future… In her honor we pledge to continue to build the Libyan nation on the values of freedom and peace.”

In April, on the day Salwa Bugaighis would’ve celebrated her 52nd birthday, her niece Rima Bugaighis appeared at the Women in the World Summit in New York City to speak about her aunt and role model. Rima, a Libyan lawyer and activist, gave a moving tribute to the passionate feminist and champion for human rights. Salwa felt a “responsibility to those who sacrificed their lives for the ideals she too believed in,” Rima said, and she remembered “her courage, her boldness, and her determination.” Watch Rima’s tribute to the fierce advocate for democracy who “radiated hope and passion” below.

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