In a response to a Freedom of Information request, the UK Foreign office has claimed that “ethnic cleansing has not taken place” in Tawergha. Continue Reading…
Archives For NATO
Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was reportedly captured and shot dead 20 October. As the evidence below shows the Libyan leader and his son Mutassim were summarily executed by the rebels, sharing the fate of so many Libyans in this conflict. Continue Reading…
The background to the video and image below is the ongoing bombardment of Sirte by NATO aircraft in support of the rebel brigades who are indiscriminately firing tank, mortar and artillery shells into this urban, civilian-populated area. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refused to comment on why NATO is not fulfilling its UN mandate to ‘protect the civilian population.’
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.”
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.
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.”
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
Human Rights Investigations has been repeatedly warning about the Libyan rebels and it has become increasingly clear that racism lies at the very heart of the conflict in Libya. It now clear that the rebel forces are NATO (and Qatar and UAE)’s proxy fighters on the ground. Many of these fighters have been recruited and motivated on the basis of psy-ops about African mercenaries, fired up by viagra, mass-raping women and pillaging their cities – discredited stories which have been spread and amplified by rebel commanders, NATO ministers, the media and ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo.
The effects of this pernicious propaganda campaign have been seen in Benghazi, Misrata and Tawergha and across the nation and are now being seen on the streets of Tripoli as rebels round up black-skinned Libyans and African guest workers, putting them into football stadiums.
Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying. But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees – all black – clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.
In the Khallat al-Firjan neighborhood in south Tripoli, Associated Press reporters saw rebel forces punching a dozen black men before determining they were innocent migrant workers and releasing them.
Racism lies at the heart of many of the NATO campaigns, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq where innocents are slaughtered in a way that simply would not be accepted if the victims were white.
NATO’s chief weapon in the Libyan conflict has been and continues to be, not Brimstone or Paveway bombs, Tornados, Typhoons or Tomahawk cruise missiles – but racism.
To appreciate the importance of racism in motivating soldiers please listen to Mike Prysner’s speech made at the 2008 Winter Soldier hearings:
“And I tried hard to be proud of my service but all I could feel was shame and racism could no longer mask the occupation. These were people. These were human beings. I’ve since been plagued by guilt anytime I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn’t walk and we rolled onto a stretcher, told the Iraqi police to take him away. I feel guilt anytime I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt anytime I see a young girl like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street.
”We were told we were fighting terrorists, but the real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism within the military has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. It has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation, and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon deployed by this government. It is a more important weapon than a rifle, a tank, a bomber or a battleship. It is more destructive than an artillery shell, or a bunker buster, or a tomahawk missile. While all of those weapons are created and owned by this government, they are harmless without people willing to use them.
”Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round. They do not have to fight the war. They merely have to sell the war. They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers into harm’s way and they need soldiers who are willing to kill or be killed without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb, but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow orders to use it. They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth, but there will only be a war if soldiers are willing to fight, and the ruling class: the billionaires who profit from human suffering care only about expanding their wealth, controlling the world economy, understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince us that war, oppression, and exploitation is in our interests. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, have nothing to gain from this occupation.
”The vast majority of people living in the US have nothing to gain from this occupation. In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain, but we suffer more because of it. We lose limbs, endure trauma, and give our lives. Our families have to watch flag draped coffins lowered into the earth. Millions in this country without healthcare, jobs, or access to education must watch this government squander over $450 million a day on this occupation. Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in another country to make the rich richer, and without racism soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war
”I threw families onto the street in Iraq only to come home and find families thrown onto the street in this country in this tragic, tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis; only to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land. But not people whose names we don’t know, and cultures we don’t understand. The enemy is people we know very well and people we can identify. The enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable. The enemy is the CEO who lays us off our jobs when it’s profitable; it’s the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable; it’s the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not 5000 miles away, they are right here at home. If we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers, we can stop this war, we can stop this government, and we can create a better world.”
WARNING VERY GRAPHIC VIDEO: DEAD CHILDREN
The following video includes more footage from the NATO bombing of Libya including from a strike on Sorman – very disturbing.
The military head of the Libya bombing campaign is Lieutenant- General Charles Bouchard – a modern version of Catch 22’s Lieutenant-General Scheisskopf.
The NATO bombing missions continue at the same level – now almost all aimed at the current target which is the town of Sirte. Sirte was bombed with 415 key strikes from Sunday 28th August to Thursday 20th October.
NATO has been described as the rebel air force, but it is more accurate to describe the rebels as NATO’s ground forces. The National Transitional Council has little independence and NATO controls the rebel ground forces, arms them, trains them, provides advisers, provides massive fire support and decides on strategy. NATO controls the air and sea and little moves on the ground without NATO’s permission.
As the rebel fighters took Zawiya, NATO faced a last-minute appeal from the Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim for a negotiated solution. The precise circumstances that led to the decision to proceed with the attack on the capital, with the inevitable humanitarian disaster that followed are uncertain, but the decisions made will be subject to examination.
It is worth having a look at the footage of Muammar Gaddafi touring the capital, to appreciate what a beautiful, well-developed city Tripoli had become and also to understand some of the obvious popular support he enjoys in that city:
Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama and the NATO high command share the belief in the efficacy of violence combined with vigorous prosecution of the information war is the best way forward. NATO, of course, has no interest in fulfilling UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which established the no fly zone and mandate to protect civilians with
“the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution”
In making their decision the western leaders would have been encouraged by the enthusistic participation of the western media in producing pro-war propaganda, who faithfully and uncritically report information provided by NATO, government spokespeople and intelligence sources. Anything which may seriously threaten the pro-war narrative is either not reported or downplayed (e.g. rebel atrocities, ethnic cleansing of Misrata and Tawergha, RAF massacre in Zlitan, peace initiatives, support for Gadaffi regime from Libyan people).
In any case, in an attack coordinated by NATO, rebels from the Western Mountains entered Tripoli from the west and ships delivered fighters from Misrata, fresh from ethnically cleansing Tawergha, into the city. NATO airstrikes were launched against the residential area of Abu Salim.
The short-term results from a humanitarian perspective were predictable: widespread destruction, looting, a collapse of public services, executions, widespread death and destruction and the deaths of hundreds of civilians (particularly black people), militia and fighters on both sides. As AP reports:
The streets where rebel fighters bombarded snipers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi were strewn with bullet-ridden corpses from both sides Thursday. Streams of blood ran down the gutters and turned sewers red.
The long-term consequences of this are unpredictable, but Sirte on the coast and Sabha in the south-west are next to be turned into slaughter-houses and how long guerrilla warfare and other violence will continue is anyone’s guess.
HRI supports the African Union’s continued attempts, to find a peaceful and sustainable solution which is inclusive of all parties to the conflict.