Libyans In US Allege Coercion

In an apparent effort to control the public narrative in the wake of rare protests that have spread throughout Libya, the country’s government is threatening to withdraw scholarship funding from citizens studying in the United States unless they attend pro-government rallies in Washington this weekend, Al Jazeera is reporting.

Several Libyans studying in the US said they and their peers have received phone calls this week from a man employed by the Libyan embassy instructing them to join rallies in the capital on Friday and Saturday. The man told the students that their government-funded scholarships would be cut off if they did not attend.

Ali Suleiman Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the United States, denied the students’ allegations. He told Al Jazeera they were “completely incorrect” and an attempt to “blackmail” the government’s reputation.

The reports of coercion come as protesters in Libya mounted a “Day of Rage” on Thursday and continued their calls for the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign as Libya’s leader.

At least 14 people are reported to have died as a result of unrest that began on Monday and has broken out in cities throughout the country, including Tripoli, the capital, and Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, where most of the deaths have been reported.

The Libyan embassy employee in the US told students that the government would pay for all the expenses associated with attending the rally, including a plane ticket, hotel room and food, the students said.

They spoke with Al Jazeera on the condition they remain anonymous because they feared retribution from the government if their identities were made public.

One student in his mid-20s who graduated from medical school in Libya and is preparing to take his physicians’ licensing exam said that the man from the embassy called late on Tuesday night and identified himself as a cultural liaison.
Live Blog

“He said, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to come … it’s not your choice, it’s best you go, it’s better than the consequences’.” the student said.

“I said, what do you mean, the consequences? And he said, ‘You’ll lose your scholarship.’ And I said, ‘Are you threatening me?’ And he said, ‘No it’s not a threat, it’s the reality’.”

Complete article via Al Jazeera

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: