Cécile Allegra won the PriMed’s most prestigious award for her documentary Libye, anatomie d’un crime. In Tunis she recorded interviews with men who seem damaged, who talk obliquely about an unprecedented crime: the systematic rape of male prisoners since the Revolution. An unspeakable crime on a massive scale, which history is trying to suppress.
She talks here about her film, the situation in Libya and the Mediterranean Issues Award.
I began this film more than three years ago, and it is a model of what not to do if you want to make a living in documentaries… One year investigating, one year filming, nine months editing. Libya is an excessively difficult country to get into and extremely dangerous to move around in – but the civil war is not recognized by international institutions, so the people who have to cross the country are not officially recognised as potential victims of war crimes. This scandalous state of affairs means they are not automatically eligible for asylum.
Libya is a country in chaos, virtually alone bearing the weight of millions of human beings forced to pass through it; and meanwhile we, the Europeans, through subsidies, discreet negotiations (like the one between the Italian Minister of the Interior and the people-trafficker Dabbashi), by training its coastguards and through major “conciliation” summits, we want it to do two things for us: close its Mediterranean frontiers, and at the same time guarantee us access to its oil. As for the atrocities committed there – we ignore them.
The crimes against migrants are now better known to the general public – although an overwhelming majority, including our leaders, have not yet understood the extent of the torture and abuse suffered by the millions of people detained in real horror camps, in a country which has become an antechamber of torture. Indeed our leaders’ lack of understanding was so great that two years ago they were actually discussing setting up hubs there – in a place controlled and devastated by militias.
Today the systematic rape of Libyan men by other Libyan men and the use of migrants to rape Libyans, which we reveal in the film, tells us one thing: that rape is a weapon, a weapon which doesn’t leave a corpse but which, by debasing and stigmatizing whole sections of Libyan society, shuffles the cards of inter-tribal relations and probably for years to come will undermine this country’s reconstruction, or even prohibit peace.
I would like to thank Emad Erega, who, as I am speaking to you, has finally returned to rebuild what remains of his house in Tawarga. Also Ramadan Alamani, who had the courage to come forward despite his fears, and all the victims in this film, who continue to fight their demons. I also want to thank Erige Sehiri, a very gifted Tunisian director who did me the kindness of translating for me during our filming.
I thank Céline Bardet, who is still continuing her long investigation with the NGO, We are Not Weapons of War. Hosni Lahmar as well, a very brave doctor and Lamia Borghi, a psychologist who has supported some of the victims in this film. I also and obviously thank Arte, who took the risk of making such a difficult film, the entire production team, Thomas Brémond for his delicate approach to the image, Fabrice Salinié with whom we shared endless discussions and long months of editing. Because a film is never made alone, and without them, I would not have managed to complete these three years of work.
And finally, I thank Primed deeply, who with this Mediterranean award, gives visibility and a voice to all those who, in Libya, on the other side of our Mediterranean Sea, can’t yet speak and be heard.
Finally I would like to dedicate this award to my friend Patrick Barberis, a great documentary maker, a beautiful soul who left us yesterday and will be sorely missed.