Archives For Libya

Amnesty International have issued a briefing called “Barred from their Homes
about the Tawergha, an ethnic group of black Libyans who were attacked and driven out of their homes in Misrata and Tawergha by racist rebel brigades and western bombing, during the NATO-backed war on Libya in 2011. The briefing documents the current situation of the Tawergha, none of whom have been allowed to return to their homes, many of whom have lost family members, and many of whom are living in refugee camps or under detention and torture in Misrata. Unfortunately, the Amnesty authors fail to explain the background to the Tawergha’s current situation, fail to criticise NATO’s role in the ethnic cleansing and make unrealistic suggestions to the “Libyan authorities” most of which are beyond the power of these authorities to deliver, even if they were minded to do so, and which indicate Amnesty is still in denial about the events of 2011. Continue Reading…

US government documents show Obama and NATO’s intervention in Libya has led to an escalating humanitarian disaster as the Libyan people’s human rights, especially the right to life and security are taken away and the country faces the prospect of failed state status.

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U.S. EMBASSY TRIPOLI, LIBYA REGIONAL SECURITY OFFICE

SECURITY INCIDENTS SINCE JUNE 2011

ON 1 JUNE 2011 BENGHAZI
CAR BOMB EXPLODES OUTSIDE HOTEL: A car bomb exploded outside the Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi. Following this explosion, other devices were discovered and made safe by the local authorities. TNC officials blamed former regime officials for the incident.

10 SEPTEMBER 2011 – LIBYA / TUNISIA / ALGERIAN BORDER
UK CITIZEN KIDNAPPED: According to the UK High Commission, a British national was kidnapped in the Libya/Tunisia/Algeria border area on 10 September 2011 and was subsequently released on 12 September 2011.

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Two videos on the theme of humanitarian intervention have come out recently. Professor Maximilian Forte of Montreal has produced a film: LIBYA: Race, Empire, and the Invention of Humanitarian Emergency unveiling the racism lying behind humanitarian interventionism. Well worth watching and disseminating.

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The Report of the The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya has been issued and provides some interesting reading. Continue Reading…

A major thread running through the story of the Libyan conflict has been the information war – propaganda spread by intelligence agencies, military, media and political groups designed to encourage hatred, conflict, war, foreign intervention, death and destruction.

One sad aspect of the propaganda war has been the role played by Amnesty International and – as we will see -the heavily compromised Human Rights Watch (HRW), organisations which used to be highly regarded (and still employ some decent, well-intentioned and brave individuals.)

The daily output of propaganda is difficult to keep up with, let alone dispel. With fabricated stories describing camel bones as mass graves containing 1270 bodies, Moussa Ibrahim reportedly being found in women’s clothing and viagra apparently being distributed as a weapon of mass destruction in order to “rape children as young as EIGHT” the propaganda is beyond parody.

Human Rights Watch – infiltrated

HRW has always been a somewhat dodgy organisation, largely funded by billionaires such as George Soros and the Rausing family whose fortune comes from Tetra Paks, exploiting cheap labor in China and (allegedly) tax dodging on an industrial scale. According to its 2010 financial statements, HRW’s annual spend on fundraising was $8,042,326 and $2,344,370 on management and general costs.

Human Rights Watch is very close to the US foreign policy establishment. Cables recently released by Wikileaks show HRW workers regularly meet with US officials abroad and as 08BANGKOK1522 makes crystal clear, HRW has been infiltrated by US government assets (our emphasis and italics):

2. (C) A long-time and trusted Embassy contact based in Thailand with HRW (STRICTLY PROTECT) revealed to us that the May 14 press release \”Burma: Donor States Must Monitor Aid\”generated a certain amount of internal dissent during its drafting. 

Of particular concern to HRW staff on the ground was reference to a report that the Burmese military appropriated international relief supplies.  The final version released to the media stated \”HRW confirmed an Associated Press (AP) report in which high-protein biscuits supplied by the international community had been seized by the military, and that low-quality, locally produced substitutes were instead delivered to communities in need.\”

3. (C) According to our contact, HRW received the story from a trusted source in Rangoon on May 12.  This Rangoon source stated that a Burmese Ministry official (NFI) had claimed that the Burmese military confiscated a shipment of high-protein biscuits and transferred them to a military warehouse. The Ministry official adamantly believed that the biscuits were replaced with an inferior version before distribution to cyclone victims, though he provided no verification of this claim. The Rangoon source had no first-hand knowledge of the action by the Burmese military and had not been able to follow-up with the Ministry official as to the current whereabouts of the alleged biscuits. HRW Thailand shared this story with their headquarters in New York, but couched it as for internal consumption only.

The Zainab al Hosni affair

The emasculation of Amnesty International is perhaps even more disappointing and it is a major victory for Admiral Stavridis’ information warriors to have neutered this once radical organization. Fresh evidence that Amnesty has been hijacked to a pro-NATO intervention agenda has been revealed by Syrian State TV and Russia Today.

On 23 September (whilst ignoring the genocide of the Tawergha , the NATO bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Libya) Amnesty issued this report about Zainab al Hosni of Homs:

Fresh evidence of the extreme brutality being meted out to Syrian protesters and their families has been revealed today by Amnesty International.

The mutilated body of 18-year-old Zainab al-Hosni of Homs, the first woman known to have died in custody during Syria’s recent unrest, was discovered by her family in horrific circumstances on 13 September.

The family was visiting a morgue to identify the body of Zainab’s activist brother Mohammad, who was also arrested and apparently tortured and killed in detention. Zainab had been decapitated, her arms cut off, and skin removed.

“If it is confirmed that Zainab was in custody when she died, this would be one of the most disturbing cases of a death in detention we have seen so far,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“We have documented other cases of protesters whose bodies were returned to their families in a mutilated state during recent months, but this is particularly shocking.”

The killings of Zainab and Mohammad bring Amnesty International’s records of reported deaths in custody to 103 cases since mass protests in Syria began in March this year.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, CNN, Al Jazeera and most other media outlets used the case of Zainab in order to try to justify the sanctions against Syria (see Infanticide masquerading as policy) and intervention in Syrian affairs by the thoroughly discredited International Criminal Court and by the UN Security Council.

In a statement guaranteed to fan the flames in Syria, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork pronounced:

“Syrian security forces either killed and mutilated Zaynab al-Hosni or are turning a blind eye to gangs committing gruesome murders against anti-government activists and their families.

In either case, the government of Bashar al-Assad is perpetuating a climate of terror in Syria and fanning the flames of sectarian mistrust.”

Now, embarrassingly for all concerned, Zainab has turned up alive and well (though complaining about having had to run away from home due to being abused by her brothers) on Syria TV:

An Amnesty International spokesperson told the BBC:

We will endeavor to be a little more cautious and phrase things a bit more nuanced.

Update: Amnesty Internatioanl and Human Rights Watch have issued a joint-statement  which seeks to explain their position on Zainab al-Hosni case and in which they

“regret any inaccuracy in the misidentification of the body as that of Zaynab al-Hosni.”

As is now well documented, the rebellion in Libya began with violent attacks on police stations, such as this one in Al-Bayda where people locked inside were reportedly burnt to death:

An intensive propaganda campaign systematically distorted the facts on the ground, including in particular allegations that the Libyan airforce was bombing peaceful protestors and that Libyan soldiers were being massacred for not shooting on unarmed protestors (since proven to have been a false flag operation). This propaganada allowed a mobilisation of the international community and the passing of UN Resolution 1973 which imposed the No-Fly Zone.

It is UN Resolution 1973 which NATO argues provides the legal basis for the coalition operation in Libya as NATO makes clear in their Factsheet on Operation Unified Protector:

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 mandates “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack. In line with this authorisation, NATO conducts reconnaissance, surveillance and information-gathering operations to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians and civilian-populated areas.

Notwithstanding this NATO supported the rebels as they escalated the level of violence directed against those who opposed them, civilians and guest workers with attacks using Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars – in fact any weapons that could be looted from arms dumps or supplied by NATO, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Here is an early example from Misrata of rebel forces nonchantly firing mortars, in between drinking cups of tea:

With the brutal assault on Sirte, which is facing a bombardment from the air, surpassing Guernica, the indiscriminate assaults on civilian areas are now being taken to a higher level:

As we have seen, NATO’s official justification for their operations includes a requirement “to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians or civilian-populated areas.”

Ralph Jodice

Commander of Allied Air Command Izmir, Lieutenant General Ralph J. Jodice II (U.S. Air Force)

Furthermore the justification includes this:
Targeting depends on the decisions of operational commanders. Targets struck to date have included tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air-defence systems and artillery around and approaching key civilian areas including Misrata, Ajdabiyah and Zintan. [My emphasis]

Yet clearly NATO is supporting the rebel use of tanks and artillery around and approaching the key civilian area of Sirte; indeed NATO and its allies are almost certainly supplying the ammunition for these big guns.

Many journalists are having trouble processing this information, let alone communicating it to their readership, as it does not fit in with the overriding paradigm of an operation “intended to protect civilians.”

It remains to be seen, which journalists have the intelligence to realise that the old paradigm is dead and the courage to communicate this fact to their readers. A new paradigm is required, a new framework to understand the NATO war on Libya, one which recognises that the mantra of “responsibity to protect civilians” which NATO repeats at every press conference and in every press release is nothing more than:

1) A propaganda device, aimed at the fooling the public into supporting a war of aggression.

2) A legal device whereby the NATO command seeks to escape responsibility for war crimes.

Human Rights Investigations has been following the situation of the Tawergha closely and here we draw the information together and find, based on the reports of witnesses, journalists and human rights workers, the situation of the Tawergha is not just one of ethnic cleansing but, according to the legal definition, genocide.

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Guernica by Picasso

According to NATO’s own figures, Sirte has been bombed with 340 “key hits” from 25th August to 16th September. (we have been tracking the official NATO numbers in War: what is it good for – absolutely nothing.)

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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.