ANHRI: The Presidential Council in Tripoli should release the organizers of “Comic Con”

Cairo: November 5, 2017

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the arrest of the organizers and supervisors of the Comic Con festival in Tripoli on the evening of November 3, alleging they “carried out acts of indecency and public immorality.”

A group of the “Special Deterrence Force”, a police force of the UN-backed Libyan government of reconciliation, stormed the headquarters of Comic Con comic-books festival at Dat El Emad Complex in Tripoli on Friday evening (November 3rd), and confiscated computers, arrested the festival organizers, and shut down the festival, which it described as the result of “weakness of religious convictions and fascination with foreign cultures.” The force announced that the organizers will be brought before “the Public Prosecution for committing acts of indecency and public immorality.”

Comic Con is a festival concerned with art, comic-books, animation and games, which began in 1970 as an exhibition that brings together dozens of comic-book lovers in the United States. The event has since spread around the world.

The festival is being held in Libya for the second consecutive year as a gathering of people interested in comic-books and novels, electronic activities (games and electronic arts), science fiction films and animation in Libya. The festival is dedicated to highlighting national stories’ heroes and seeks to promote this kind of culture in Libya.

It is noteworthy that hundreds of Libyan armed factions sought to impose their authority by force of arms in light of the security vacuum prevailing after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the February 17, 2011 revolution, and Libya now has two governments, one in the west, which is supported by the United Nations, and one supported by Marshal Khalifa Hafter in the east.

ANHRI said that Comic Con Libya is an artistic festival that seeks to enhance the taste of young people by introducing them to a new world of stories and illustrated novels, and to unleash their creative potential in expressing their society in a way that contributes to the building and development of Libyan society, and therefore we see that the arrest of the festival organizers is an illegal action contrary to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of creativity, and it is also a failed attempt to eliminate art and creativity by an armed faction that established itself as a guardian of society under the pretext of protecting public morals.

ANHRI called on the Presidential Council of the National Reconciliation Government to release the organizers of Comic Con and to allow the festival to continue, and also to declare its commitment to the values and charters of human rights, including the right of everyone to freedom of creativity and freedom of expression.