Libya: killing black Africans in the name of the revolution and democracy
Boutros Hussein and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Reports for many months have stated that Libyan rebels have been killing and persecuting black Africans in Libya once areas came under their control. The number of reports highlighting this continues to grow and many images have been shown which show Africans being mutilated and having their bodies abused and mocked by non-black African Libyans. This disturbing fact mocks the notion of “good” versus “evil” because both sides have committed atrocities but for black Africans it is the rebels who they fear.
It is clear that some rebels accuse Africans of being mercenaries for the Gaddafi regime and they believe that he was favorable towards them during his rule over Libya. However, it is obvious that the vast majority of non-African Libyans based in Libya were normal workers who just desired employment.
Also, reports have stated that African Libyans are also being victimized and suffering persecution. Therefore, since large areas have fell to the National Transitional Council (NTC) both non-African Libyans and African Libyans fear for their safety.
It is factual that many African mercenaries did fight alongside loyal Gaddafi forces and propaganda on both sides is being stated to the media. After all, you have anti-Western individuals who want to use Libya against some European powers and America for supporting the NTC.
Also, loyalist who still support Gaddafi desire to show that rebels are not democrats and that they have also committed atrocities. This means that the fog of war is also being played by many political elements and the propaganda war makes the issue more complex.
Alternatively, pro-rebel forces and Western governments who have supported the rebels have also pinned countless atrocities on Gaddafi. According to the rebels and Western governments who support the NTC, the Gaddafi regime was preparing to slaughter tens of thousands of individuals in rebel held areas before military intervention and arming the rebels took place.
However, it is apparent that non-African Libyans and African Libyans are residing in fear and many Africans have been killed who were not mercenaries. Nigerians who were caught up in the mayhem have heavily rebuked Libya’s NTC and Western powers who supported the rebels against Gaddafi. They have not done this on the grounds of supporting the Gaddafi regime but because of how they have been treated by the rebels.
Karlos Zurutuza, writer for Deutsche Welle, reports in his article titled Racist violence overshadows Libya’s revolution, that many Africans are suffering and being persecuted. He quotes a local rebel council officer called Abdulhamid Abdulhakim who states “None of them are Libyans. Those guys we keep inside are all foreigners paid by Gadhafi to kill our people, what are we expected to do with them? They are mercenaries, you know?”
Zeinab Muhamed repudiates this logic by stating that “They say we’re not Libyans but that’s not true. I was born in Chad but we moved to Sebah – 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Tripoli – 20 years ago. We have had Libyan passports almost since the day we moved.”
Under Gaddafi he allowed vast numbers of African migrants to move to Libya because of the sheer size of Libya and natural resources. This, alongside the small population in Libya meant that outside workers were needed for menial jobs. However, the crisis of today is partly based on many Africans being recruited by the Gaddafi regime.
Many Libyans are also black Africans and they are also being persecuted and like stated earlier, it is obvious that the vast majority of African migrants were workers who had been welcomed by the Gaddafi regime.
Therefore, rebels and anti-Gaddafi individuals are exploiting the situation in order to clampdown against innocent Africans in Libya. This can be seen by many make-shift prisons which have sprouted up in areas controlled by the NTC.
Before local officials prevented African prisoners from speaking to Deutsche Well one prisoner from Ghana spoke. Abiki Martens stated “I came from Ghana last year because my brother told me it was easy to find a job as a street cleaner. It seems that all of them are black. I swear I’ve never ever held a weapon in this country.”
Rebels counter accusations of racism and killings of Africans by stating that people killed or being held in make-shift prisons were found with military arms and had war wounds. Therefore, implying that they were only holding Africans who are deemed to be mercenaries and that Africans who were killed had fought against rebel forces.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling on the need to stop “arbitrary arrests and abuse of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be mercenaries (and that) …widespread arbitrary arrests and frequent abuse have created a grave sense of fear among the city’s African population.”
Sarah Leah Whitson who works for Human Rights Watch issued a chilling comment because she stated that “It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli.”
Reporters on the ground like Karlos Zurutuza and many others are stating similar things. Therefore, images of persecution and arbitrary killings during the height of the fighting is leading to an uneasy feel for the majority of Africans throughout Libya and something needs to be done to protect the innocent.
– Karlos Zurutuza and Racist violence overshadows Libya’s revolution
– Plight of sub-Saharan Africans in Libya