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Libya political prisoners begin hunger strike over continued detention

[JURIST] Libyan human rights group Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) [advocacy website] said Tuesday that 131 political dissidents affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group [Wikipedia profile] have begun a hunger strike in a Tripoli prison to draw attention to a previous government promise to release them. The prisoners were assured of their eventual release [JURIST report] by an influential and reform-minded son of Libyan leader Colonel Muhamar Gaddaffi [BBC profile] last August, but the government has yet to act. The activists were charged with treason for participating in political activity unauthorized by the government; in Libya, political parties are illegal and opposing the government is a serious crime. According to HRS, a Libyan court hearing the treason charges in 2002 sentenced two of the prisoners to death, 73 to life in prison, and 11 to 10 years, while 66 were acquitted. In April 2004, Amnesty International criticized Libya's human rights record in a report [text] that demanded the government improve its conduct. AP has more.

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