Archives For Libya

Some important reactions to the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha – The San Francisco BayView has followed up on the reporting of the Wall Street Journal, the Black Star News and Human Rights Investigations on the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha with an article entitled: Libya: Tawergha, city of Blacks, depopulated – Rep. Jesse Jackson calls for investigation of ‘crimes against humanity’

A Black Star News report follows the remarks made by NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, giving the seal of approval to the ethnic cleansing.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, who served as a national co-chairman of the 2008 Obama election campaign and who is a civil rights activist and stated on Wednesday:

“Racism in the form of ethnic cleansing, killing and genocide is wrong anytime, anyplace and against anybody in the world. And it appears as though the rebel leader, Mahmoud Jibril, is using the American idea that the South used to protect the institution of slavery – the 10th Amendment in our Constitution – to say, in essence, ‘it’s a states’ right and local control issue.’”

“Well, it’s not a local issue and it’s a moral outrage,”  he added.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ As a senior member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I intend to raise this issue with my colleagues and condition any financial support for the reconstruction of Libya and its transition to a democratic society.”

“I think it is absolutely necessary that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in the Hague investigate what I consider to be crimes against humanity,” Rep. Jackson said.

As the SFBayView states:

The White House has yet to issue a single statement condemning this ethnic cleansing of Black people. Hillary Clinton’s Department of State remains mute. The leaders of organizations that profess to protect the rights of Black people, such as the NAACP’s Ben Jealous and the National Urban League’s Marc Morial, have yet to make statements. Surely, someone must read The Wall Street Journal.

As the SFBayView also states:

Other major corporate media, such as The New York Times, CNN and BBC, all of which to varying degrees surrendered pretense at “objectivity” and openly supported the NATO bombardments, are now in a bind. They have yet to report major stories on the ethnic cleansing in Misrata and Tawergha. Rather than concede that the side they supported in the civil war is carrying out war crimes, they would rather suppress the story.

The reaction of the United Nations

As yet there has been little direct response from the United Nations to the Black Star News:

Even the United Nations was unable to respond today to the ethnic cleansing reports when contacted by The Black Star News and after the Journal’s reports were forwarded. A spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was asked whether the targeted actions qualified as ethnic cleansing, whether they qualified as war crimes and whether the United Nations is demanding an investigation.

The spokesman, Eduardo del Buey, ignored the specific questions and responded with a statement from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, which states in part  “In situations of transition or unrest, restraint must be observed.” The spokesman explained:

“We are not commenting on media reports. the high commissioner speaks to the issue of human rights, and this is what she has said to date in Libya,”

Navi Pillay recently stated that “expectations that the UN will play its part are high and we must not disappoint them” – our expectation is that she will take some urgent action to protect civilians in Libya by working to bring an end to the NATO bombing and also make a firm statement, not just about the fate of migrant workers in Libya, but also about the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha and the abuses being committed against dark-skinned Libyans.

UN Resolution 2009 (2011)

This resolution, passed on Friday, makes some important provisions including:

“Strongly condemning all violations of applicable human rights and international humanitarian law, including violations that involve unlawful killings, other uses of violence against civilians, or arbitrary arrests and detentions, in particular of African migrants and members of minority communities’

South Africa’s representative, however, expressed disappointment that the resolution did not call specifically for the protection of the human rights of African migrants.  Alongside the Russian Federation’s representative and other speakers, he also called for the early lifting of the no-fly zone. South Africa’s representative, however, expressed disappointment that the resolution did not call specifically for the protection of the human rights of African migrants.  Alongside the Russian Federation’s representative and other speakers, he also called for the early lifting of the no-fly zone.

 

It has been described as a moment Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy “will savour for years,” “the ultimate photo opportunity” and “a moment which will shape French and British foreign policy.”

When Cameron and President Sarkozy went to Benghazi  yesterday to express their support for Libyan rebels, they went straight to the site at which the rebels publicly beheaded an alleged pro-Gaddafi “mercenary” only weeks before.

Continue Reading…

Cameron and Sarkozy visited Tripoli today in a carefully staged public relations operation.

The two held a press conference with Chairman Mustapha Abdel Jalil and Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril as the two western leaders pledged to carry on bombing Libya as long as it takes. There was, of course, no mention of the recent seal of approval Mahmoud Jibril gave to the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha and no mention of the ongoing reign of terror directed against pro-Gaddafi supporters and black-skinned Libyans.

The unfortunate fact is that these leaders are not interested in finding a peaceful political accommodation between the people of Libya, but are committed to the unconditional surrender and to the brutal suppression by military force of all forces who do not share their vision of Libya’s future. This will include the taking by force of Sabha. As Chairman Jalil said:

“There will be fierce battles in Sabha with equipment that we do not yet have, and we ask for more equipment to retake these places”

As usual, the BBC faithfully relayed the messages being sent out by the British government (all the Libyan people are so grateful etc.) so we have to look to Russia Today for any kind of objective reporting of the facts on the ground:

A particularly worrying feature of Sarkozy’s recent pronouncements have been his references to Syria and the fact he obviously sees Libya as a prelude to what he wishes to achieve in that country. The preparations for an attack on Syria are already being laid (itself a prelude to attacking Iran), both in the media, by supplying arns to violent elements of the opposition and imposing economic sanctions designed to destabilise the country further.

In this context, it is fortunate that the position of Russia, reiterated by Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations is sensibly:

“If you want to protect civilians the last thing you do is start a civil war”

Mahmoud Jibril

The final chapter is now being written for Tawargha, as reported by Sam Dagher of the Wall Street Journal

Mahmoud Jibril, the NTC prime minister, rubber-stamped the wiping of the town off the map at the Misrata town hall:

“Regarding Tawergha, my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misrata.”

“This matter can’t be tackled through theories and textbook examples of national reconciliation like those in South Africa, Ireland and Eastern Europe,” he added as the crowd cheered with chants of “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest.”

The WSJ goes on to report:

Now, rebels have been torching homes in the abandoned city 25 miles to the south. Since Thursday, The Wall Street Journal has witnessed the burning of more than a dozen homes in the city Col. Gadhafi once lavished with money and investment. On the gates of many vandalized homes in the country’s only coastal city dominated by dark-skinned people, light-skinned rebels scrawled the words “slaves” and “negroes.”

“We are setting it on fire to prevent anyone from living here again,” said one rebel fighter as flames engulfed several loyalist homes.

For the former residents this is still not the end of the story, as reported recently by human rights workers in Tripoli, male inhabitants of the town who fled are being tracked down and rounded up in Tripoli and sent to Misrata to face the tender mercies of the mob there.

Please click here for a comprehensive update on the Tawergha

Human Rights Investigations supports the email campaign to stop the NATO bombing in Libya, to prevent massacres such as we have already seen in Zlitan and NATO supported ethnic cleansing in places such as Tawergha and to protect the people of Sabha, Zlitan and the south of Libya from further death and destruction.

Take just a few easy steps to send e-mails to non-belligerent members on the UN Security Council, calling on them to take a stand against the military intervention and to support and promote a negotiated resolution/peace.

SEND YOUR E-MAILS NOW!

Please pass this on to your friends, family and contacts around the world! For Italian, French and Spanish versions of the appeal (with email in English) please go to: http://www.interculture.it/libia

——————————————————————————–

Please paste the following addresses into the recipient box of your “Stop the War in Libya” e-mail:

ChinaMissionUN@Gmail.com, rusun@un.int, India@un.int, portugal@un.int, contact@lebanonun.org, chinesemission@yahoo.com, delbrasonu@delbrasonu.org, siumara@delbrasonu.org, bihun@mfa.gov.ba, colombia@colombiaun.org, pmun.newyork@dirco.gov.za, perm.mission@nigerdeleg.org, aumission_ny@yahoo.com, presidentrsa@po.gov.za, info@new-york-un.diplo.de, dsatsia@gabon-un.org, LamamraR@africa-union.org, waneg@africa-union.org, JoinerDJ@africa-union.org, gabon@un.int, Nigeria@un.int, unsc-nowar@gmx.com

In the e-mail’s subject box:
PLEASE PUT A STOP TO NATO WAR IN LIBYA – APPEAL TO NON-BELLIGERENT UNSC MEMBERS

Body text:

“PLEASE PUT A STOP TO THE NATO WAR ON LIBYA!”
WE APPEAL TO NON-BELLIGERENT MEMBERS OF THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL
•to put an end to the misuse of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to influence the internal affairs of Libya through warfare, by revoking it, and
•to press for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Libya.

We thank those countries that have tried, and are still trying, to work towards peace.

Our appeal is based on the following:
•the military intervention in Libya undertaken by some NATO members has now gone far beyond the provisions of Security Council Resolution 1973, and is based on hyped-up accounts of defenseless citizens being massacred by their government, while the truth is that, in Libya, there is an on-going and intense internal armed conflict;
•we are aware of the economic and geo-strategic interests that lie behind the war in Libya and, in particular, behind NATO support of one of the two armed factions;
•NATO military intervention in Libya has killed (and is continuing to kill) countless civilians, as well as harming and endangering the civilian population, including migrants and refugees, in various other ways;
•the belief, at this stage, that only non-belligerent countries – and particularly those with U.N. Security Council voting rights – can successfully bring a peaceful end to the conflict through negotiations and by implementing the opening paragraph of UNSC Resolution 1973, which calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Respectfully yours,

Name (or association)
Address (optional)

Promoted by Rete No War and U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice – Rome

As our regular readers will be aware, we have been reporting on the fate of the people of Tawergha since the local rebel commander Ibrahim al-Halbous, said he was going to wipe the town off the map. We reported the storming of the town, with NATO support, and the extremely worrying reports of prisoners in shipping crates and the people of the town being “handed over to the red cross,”  which they weren’t (see ‘Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata’).

We relayed the reports from Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International about the inhabitants who managed to flee being persecuted in Tripoli.

Andrew Gilligan, a reporter from The Sunday Telegraph, now reports from Tawergha:

This pro-Gaddafi settlement has been emptied of its people, vandalised and partly burned by rebel forces. The Sunday Telegraph was the first to visit the scene of what appears to be the first major reprisal against supporters of the former regime.

“We gave them thirty days to leave,” said Abdul el-Mutalib Fatateth, the officer in charge of the rebel garrison in Tawarga, as his soldiers played table-football outside one of the empty apartment blocks. “We said if they didn’t go, they would be conquered and imprisoned. Every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back.”

Andrew Gillighan is a serious reporter and he even mentions the racial context:

And as so often in Libya, there is also a racist undercurrent. Many Tawargas, though neither immigrants nor Gaddafi’s much-ballyhooed African mercenaries, are descended from slaves, and are darker than most Libyans.

Along the road that leads into Tawargha, the Misurata Brigade has painted a slogan. It says, “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin.”

We have to say, the racist element is more than an undercurrent, but if more journalists had reported the truth rather than turning a blind eye, refusing to report or to investigate then perhaps lives could still be saved.

In this context we should just mention the “reporting” of so-called journalists such as Chris Stephen who has been in Misrata for weeks writing pro-war, pro-NATO propaganda for the benefit of the Guardian’s readership and failing miserably to report on the racist atrocities and ethnic cleansing.

Update (12 September) – The Washington Post reports Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert as confirming:

“It really is racist violence against all dark-skinned people, this situation for Africans in Tripoli is dire.”

Update (14th September) – The ethnic cleansing of Tawergha is now being made permanent with the seal of approval of Mahmoud Jibril.

Please click here for a comprehensive update on the Tawergha

A number of reports now, from a variety of organisations, show that black people are being rounded up, disappearing or being interned in atrocious conditions in Tripoli.

Hundreds of African workers are stuck in various locations including about 1,000 at the military port of Sidi Bilal six miles west of Tripoli, fearing for their lives, with little water and limited provisions. This situation has been going on for weeks, with the ICRC finally delivering some water on 5 September.

Macclatchy’ David Enders reports:

The rebels who ring the camp suddenly open fire. Then they race into the  camp, shouting “gabbour, gabbour” — Arabic for whore — and haul away young  women, residents say.

“You should be here in the evening, when they come in firing their guns and  taking people,” one woman from Nigeria said Wednesday as she recounted the  nightly raids on the camp. “They don’t use condoms, they use whatever they can  find,” she said, pointing to a discarded plastic bag in a pile of trash.          

As she spoke, other women standing nearby nodded in agreement.

One of the women describes the feelings of the inhabitants of the camp:

Stacey Alexandra, 26, who said she had spent the last three years in Libya  cleaning private homes and hotels and sending money back to family in Cameroon.  “Now everyone here wants to leave. This country is too racist.”

David Enders reports further:

There is no way to know how many women have been raped here, where hundreds  of Africans have settled in and around the boats of a marina. No one keeps  statistics in the camp, and foreign aid workers say they are prohibited from  discussing the allegations on the record. [Our emphasis] International Red Cross  representatives say only that they have spoken to rebel leaders about “security  concerns.”

The ICRC (who managed to get the reporters out of the Rixos) says “it is searching for a way to ensure the long-term security of the people in Sidi Bilal, for example by transferring them to a safer location.”

Charles De Gaulle French aircraft carrier - left refugees to die

Where are the European countries and NATO when black African civilians need help? Well, we got the answer to that earlier in this conflict when, as the Guardian reported, 72 African refugees were left to die in the Mediterranean by various military units including the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle:

A boat carrying 72 passengers, including several women, young children and political refugees, ran into trouble in late March after leaving Tripoli for the Italian island of Lampedusa. Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a warship, no rescue effort was attempted.

All but 11 of those on board died from thirst and hunger after their vessel was left to drift in open waters for 16 days. “Every morning we would wake up and find more bodies, which we would leave for 24 hours and then throw overboard,” said Abu Kurke, one of only nine survivors. “By the final days, we didn’t know ourselves … everyone was either praying, or dying.”

Human Rights Investigations calls for European countries to take action to ensure the safe and speedy evacuation of all migrants in Libya who wish to leave.

Update 12 September – The Washington Post reports quotes Niklas Bergstrans, the communications officer for Doctors Without Borders in Tripoli who says of the African guest workers at Jansour that

“They need to be moved somewhere where they are safe,” . “It’s disappointing. We haven’t seen any concrete actions from the Transitional National Council and other international organizations.”

We have been following the fate of the people of Tawargha since one of the Misratan rebel commanders threatened to wipe Tawargha off the map. The same commander then turned up on camera with Orla Guerin of the BBC, as Tawargha was taken by the rebels with NATO support and the inhabitants fled. There can be no doubt that NATO commanders were fully complicit in this ethnic cleansing.

Al Jazeera reported that the inhabitants had been handed over ot the Red Cross but the ICRC were unable to confirm this and there have been rumours of a mass grave. The fate of the prisoners shown loaded into a shipping container is unknown.

Now Amnesty International’s Diana Elthaway reports that the 10,000s of Tawarghans who have fled to Tripoli (and other dark-skinned-Libyans) are facing continuing persecution from the Misratan rebels who have now caught up with them in the capital.

One lady from Tawargha describes how the townsfolk fled:

“When the thuwwar entered our town in mid-Ramadan [mid-August] and shelled it, we fled just carrying the clothes on our backs. I don’t know what happened to our homes and belongings. Now I am here in this camp, my son is ill and I am too afraid to go to the hospital in town. I don’t know what will happen to us now.”

The evidence suggests that Tawarghas are fearful of going outside, cannot return home and have been abused,  detained (even whilst in hospital) and gone missing:

Some Tawarghas who have been detained in Tripoli are said to have been made to kneel facing the wall, and then been beaten with sticks and whips. Others have simply vanished after being arrested at checkpoints and taken from hospitals by armed revolutionaries (thuwwar).

On 29 August, Amnesty International delegates saw a Tawargha patient at the Tripoli Central Hospital being taken by three men for “questioning in Misratah” and were told about at least two other Tawargha men had vanished after being taken for questioning from Tripoli hospitals. A 45-year-old flight dispatcher and his uncle were arrested by armed rebels while out shopping in the al-Firnaj area of Tripoli on 28 August.

Even in the refugee camps, the Tawarghas are not safe. Towards the end of last month, a group of armed men drove into the camp and arrested about 14 men – and their relatives do not know of their fate.

Amnesty also report that “in addition to Tawarghas, other black Libyans including from the central Sabha district as well as sub-Saharan Africans continue to be at particular risk of reprisals and arbitrary arrests, on account of their skin colour and widespread reports that al-Gaddafi forces used “African mercenaries” to repress supporters of the NTC.”

Sabha is a city in south-central Libya, formerly capital of Fezzan which was historically one of the three provinces of Libya and fully became part of the Kingdom of Libya in 1951 when the French left. In 2006, the population of Fezzan was 442,090 constituting 7.8% of the Libyan population.

Sabha is mainly inhabited by Libyans of mixed and black African descent and the population is temporarily safe from being massacred by the hostile rebels from Misrata or from the Western Mountains due to its geographical remoteness as the routes to Sabha  traverse large expanses of barren and desert landscape, although there is a metalled road which the rebels will no doubt be travelling down once they have dealt with the conundrum of Bani Walid.

As well as the native inhabitants, more than 1,200 African migrants are stranded in the towm according to the International  Organization for Migration.

In a statement, the IOM said “there is no longer any political infrastructure in Sabha” able to support the migrants until  evacuation plans are organised.

“With no electricity, fuel and little food and  water, the situation for the migrants and those in the town is becoming  increasingly difficult,”

Moreover, Sabha is not safe from NATO bombing, as this tweet from UK Military Spokesman Maj Gen Nick Pope indicates:

This long-range mission would have required logistical support from the US and the consent of “son-of-Africa,” Barack Obama.
Please click here for a comprehensive update on the Tawergha

Please click here for a comprehensive update on the Tawergha

Please click here for a comprehensive update on the Tawergha

Senator McCain at rebel HQ - still from video below

Senator McCain R-Arizona the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was quickly off the mark to Benghazi in April to give political support to the rebels.

Here is the video of him visiting:

 

 

Here is the building which John McCain was visiting in a picture (courtesy of Al Jazeera creative commons license):

Benghazi rebel headquarters

And here is footage of the rebel lynching which took place before Senator McCain’s visit, at the same location. The video shows a man being strung up and beheaded.

WARNING VERY GRAPHIC VIDEO

 

 

In Benghazi, McCain attracted a crowd so enthusiastic that at one point he joked,

“I’ve got to bring you to Arizona.”

He called on President Obama to recognize the rebel government, provide more air support like AC130 anti-tank and A10 ground support aircraft, get anti-tank weapons into rebel hands, train rebels on target marking technology and give the them satellite phones to aid communication.

Today Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports on the arbitrary detention of black-skinned people in Tripoli.

HRW is one of the members of the “Responsibility to Protect coalition” and has been slow to condemn the racist atrocities of the Libyan rebellion and has little to say about the bombing of civilians by NATO in places like Zlitan.

HRW is not to be confused with Human Rights Investigations (HRI) which opposes the NATO bombing, supporting the African Union position on Libya and has worked to expose the racial element to the conflict

The HRW article contains evidence of black Libyans and sub-Saharan guest workers being abused in Tripoli, which have already been widely reported, as well as hopes for an  “embryonic legal system” in Tripoli.

VIDEO SHOWS DEAD BODIES:

HRW witnessed black men being taken into the Bab al-Bahr football club – but weren’t allowed by the commander to see what was happening inside. The commander claimed the detainees were all “foreign fighters” but their families were outside complaining and the four they were allowed to interview who were apparently being released were elderly Libyans.

HRW also found black people – a mixture of black Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans – detained in other places around Tripoli including the Maftuah prison in the Fernaj neighborhood, (300 detainees on September 1 including wounded). In this prison HRW described the conditions for Libyan detainees as acceptable, but

“the sub-Saharan Africans were in overcrowded cells with a putrid stench; one cell had 26 people and six mattresses and the African men complained of inadequate water, poor sanitation and not being allowed to make phone calls to ask family members to bring their documents.”

At a school in the Intisar neighborhood, 76 detainees incuding 3 women were found on September 1. About half of the detainees appeared to be sub-Saharan Africans, the remaineder being Libyans accused of having fought for Gaddafi.  HRW saw the prisoners being prepared for transfer to the Mitiga air base.

One of the detainees, a 25 year old from Mali, was arrested at his house and complained that:

At about 10 p.m. a big group of Libyans came with the owner of the building. They tied us up, took all of our passports and possessions, and beat us. They brought us to a big mosque in the neighborhood, and then they went to other African houses and arrested them. In the end, they had more than 200 Africans in there. Then they put us on vehicles and took us around town shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” [“God is great”] and saying we were mercenaries they had captured.

HRW also visited Nigerian families at Girgarish, and one of the men, a carpenter, complained:

“I’m from Abu Salim, but our lives are not safe there because they say we’re mercenaries, they regard all black men as mercenaries.”

The HRW article contains new incendiary allegations of the use of “African mercenaries” (similar to the earlier allegations which Amnesty researchers found to be largely unfounded and which led to so many deaths).

According to the Article 47 of the  Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977 the definition of a mercenary is as follows:

2. A mercenary is any person who:
a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

To be clear – all the above have to apply for someone to be considered a mercenary. Others apply even more stringent conditions and the security guards employed by the Americans in Iraq, Gurkhas employed by the British etc are not described as mercenaries.

All human rights organisations should focus on protecting black people in Tripoli, rather than their own institutional interests. We agree with Sarah Leah Whitson,  Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch who states:

 “It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli,

“The NTC should stop arresting African migrants and black Libyans unless it has concrete evidence of criminal activity. It should also take immediate steps to protect them from violence and abuse.”