As the fighting continues in Libya, the Gaddafi government has invited foreign reporters to Tripoli, as long as they stay in the Rixos hotel. They are barred from leaving to report on actual events, but occasionally get to hear government statements or get taken on organized tours for propaganda purposes.
That tightly-controlled system was violated this morning when Eman al-Obeidy, a Libyan woman from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, escaped from two days of imprisonment at the hands of Gaddafi’s militia. She managed to flee to the Rixos, where she told reporters about her ordeal. According to Obeidy, she was tied up, beaten, and raped by 15 men, who also defecated and urinated on her. She pleaded for her friends who are still in custody, and showed a number of bruises and injuries on her body.
Being surrounded by international media did not keep her safe, as she was soon confronted by security forces as she told her story. Despite resisting frantically and some attempts at intervention by journalists, she was taken away in a car. Hotel employees sided with the security forces, threatening Obeidy and using knives to hold off journalists who were trying to help her. Soon thereafter, government spokespeople accused her of being drunk and mentally ill, claiming that her story of rape and abuse was a fantasy.
Here’s a video of Obeidy being taken away. Warning: intense and very real.