VIDEO: Shock, dismay, outrage expressed over desecration of World War II-era graves in Libya
Politicians and veterans groups in Australia, the U.K. and Canada, as well as other area, are outraged over the intentional vandalism of World War II-era graves in Benghazi, Libya.
Libyans, Australians and Brits alike are outraged over the desecration of war graves in Libya last month.
The cemetery that was vandalized is home to more than a thousand remains of war dead from the British Commonwealth, which includes soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India and South Africa. The graves were in two cemeteries in the eastern city of Benghazi, the Benghazi War Cemetery and the Benghazi British Military Cemetery. More than 200 headstones were damaged, as were the cemetery's facilities as well.
"It was desecrated by extremists," said Benghazi resident Imad Mohammed. "They are to blame and have done wrong. It is forbidden under Islam to attack the graves."
More than 30 men participated in the desecration, which involved taking sledgehammers to the simple white headstones that mark individual graves. One of the men can be heard saying "this is a grave of a Christian" as he rips out a headstone from the ground.
"Nothing, nothing excuses the desecration of war graves," said Craig Emerson, Australia's acting foreign minister. "Whether they are Australian, whether they are British, no matter who they are, nothing excuses this kind of vandalism.
Don Rowe of the Australian veterans organizations the Returned & Services League said his heart was broken to see the bodies of young men who fought for the freedom of Libya treated so disrespectfully.
"It's absolutely shocking," he said.
According to CTV, at least one of the desecrated graves belongs to a Canadian airman, Flying Officer Martin Palmer Northmore.
Libya has apologized for the attacks and vowed to track down those responsible. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has said it will repair the damage, but that's expected to take some time because of the political instability in the country.