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Libyan embassy staff in Sweden quit over violence

Sweden warns against travel to Libya, Bahrain
Oil giant Statoil evacuates staff from Libya

Three non-diplomatic employees at the Libyan embassy in Stockholm announced in a an open letter Monday that they were quitting their jobs to protest the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Libya.

"We, the undersigned personnel at the Libyan embassy in Stockholm, condemn the genocide that is taking place against civilians in Libya," Sayed Jalabi and Hamid Kassem, both of Syrian origin, and Abdelali Mahfouf of Morocco wrote in a letter to Swedish media and obtained by AFP.

The violence in Libya is targeting people who have made "legitimate demands ... for a dignified life without the despot Kadhafi's continued misrule and corruption," they wrote.

"We deem our situation intolerable: We do not want to be passive when we see that people are rising against the tyrant despite the obvious risk that their blood will be spilled.

"That is why we are quitting in protest and calling on others to make their voice heard," they concluded.

The Libyan embassy in Stockholm could not be reached for comment.

Mouna Bakkar, the wife of Jalabi, however told AFP in a telephone interview that the three men had been employed at the Libyan embassy, with her 37-year-old husband working as an interpreter, Kassem working in the consulate and Mahfouf working as a receptionist.

Jalabi, who arrived in Sweden in 1998, had since become a Swedish citizen, as had Kassem, Bakkar said, adding she did not know whether Mahfouf had obtained citizenship in Sweden.

Earlier Monday, around 50 people demonstrated outside Libya's mission in the Swedish capital to protest the iron-fisted crackdown by Moamer Kadhafi's 41-year regime.

A similar demonstration counting some 60 protesters took place in front of the Libyan embassy in Copenhagen on Monday, police said.

The death toll from unrest stemming from protests against Kadhafi's regime that began on February 15 rose to up to 400, according to human rights groups.


Last Updated (Monday, 21 February 2011 20:27)


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