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Thursday, 15 September 2011 17:00

Libyan Rebels Accused of "Ethnic Cleansing," Black Genocide

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LibyaNATO and U.S.-backed rebel forces in Libya are reportedly engaging in systematic attacks against the black population in what some analysts have called war crimes and even genocide, sparking condemnation worldwide from human-rights groups and officials.

Reports and photographic evidence indicate that numerous atrocities including mass executions have taken place even in recent weeks. Many black victims were found with their hands bound behind their backs and bullets through their skulls.

Horrific internment camps, systematic rape, torture, lynching, and looting of businesses owned by blacks have all been reported as well. And countless sub-Saharan Africans have been forced to flee their homes in Libya to avoid the same fate.

The al-Qaeda-linked rebels’ campaign of racist terror began shortly after the Benghazi uprising in February. More than a few videos surfaced on the internet in the early months of the conflict showing brutal lynchings and beheadings while Western-backed rebels cheered.

But as insurgent forces solidify their grip over most of Libya, the race-based persecution is quickly intensifying. Entire cities and towns formerly occupied by blacks have been ethnically cleansed and destroyed.

"The Brigade for Purging Slaves, black Skin" — apparently a rebel slogan — was found months ago scrawled all along the road to Tawergha. And today, the coastal city of about 10,000 mostly black residents has essentially been wiped off the map.

Rebel forces rounded up remaining inhabitants and reportedly took them to camps, although reporters searching for the former residents have not been able to locate them. Homes, businesses, and schools were then looted before being burned to the ground.

Finally, graffiti reading "slaves," "negroes," and "abeed" — a derogatory term for blacks — was painted all over the ruins by NATO’s revolutionaries. The former city is now a "closed military area," according to rebels guarding a checkpoint interviewed by the McClatchy news service.   

“Tawarga no longer exists,” a rebel commander told the Wall Street Journal. Another rebel fighter boasted more recently: "We are setting it on fire to prevent anyone from living here again.”

The anti-black brutality could also be found in the capital, Tripoli, according to a correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and others. Earlier this month Ruth Pollard described a prison where she found, among other horrors, jail cells packed with more than 25 prisoners.

In another cell: two black men in desperate need of medical care. One of them, a 28-year-old Nigerian, was doused with gasoline and set ablaze in a racially motivated attack. He had been in the rebel-run prison — burnt skin peeling off his face — for nine days without so much as a visit from a doctor. And there was a hospital just a few hundred yards away.

“Anyone with dark skin — regardless of their loyalties — can find themselves a target,” the Herald reported. Countless analysts have reached the same conclusion.

Late last month, the U.K. Independent reported that a makeshift hospital had become a ghastly crime scene. Dozens of men, almost all of them black, were murdered and left to rot — some of them still hooked up to medical equipment.

“The killings were pitiless,” the paper noted. “Many of [the victims] had their hands tied behind their back, either with plastic handcuffs or ropes. One had a scarf stuffed into his mouth.”   

Much of the black population in Libya today is native, coming from the Southern regions of the Arab-dominated nation — and some of them did indeed fight as soldiers in Gaddafi’s military. Other dark-skinned people in Libya are simply migrant workers trying to earn a living. But they have all become targets.

At least part of the violent campaign launched against them has been attributed to early reports that Gaddafi was using sub-Saharan mercenaries to suppress the Western-backed insurrection. International human-rights investigators in Libya later reported that the allegations were completely false. But the narrative had already taken on a life of its own after being widely disseminated in the press.

“In February, there was this rumor about Gadhafi using black people as mercenaries — that’s wrong,” Amnesty International’s Nicolas Beger told the Associated Press. “But the [National Transitional Council] has not done a lot to curb that rumor and now there is a lot of retaliation against sub-Saharan Africans. Whether they were or they weren’t involved with the Gadhafi forces, they are at real risk of being taken from their work or their homes or the street to be tortured or killed.”

In a report released this week, Amnesty International said the Gaddafi regime had perpetrated widespread abuses. But rebel forces associated with the National Transitional Council (NTC) "have also committed human rights abuses, in some cases amounting to war crimes,” it noted. The new regime has promised to investigate.

Other organizations and observers have also called for an end to the lawlessness — and particularly the targeting of blacks. “It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli,” noted Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch. “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.”

As The New American reported last month, evidence of widespread war crimes committed by the rebels and their NATO partners continues to mount. Everything from bombing women and children to destroying essential civilian infrastructure has been well documented. But the attacks on blacks have been particularly vicious.

Repercussions over what observers have labeled ethnic cleansing are being felt all over Africa and beyond. Chairman Jean Ping of the African Union Commission told reporters last week that the anti-black attacks were one reason many African governments refuse to recognize the new regime as Libya’s legitimate government.

“Blacks are being killed. Blacks are having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries,” Ping explained. “Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?”

In the United States, Americans of African ancestry have been fiercely critical of developments, too. “The Libya war proved to the world that the lives of Black people have no value for NATO, Western leaders, and editorial writers,” wrote Black Star News in a piece blasting the New York Times’ mild rebuke of the genocide.

And U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. joined a growing chorus of Congressmen calling for war-crimes investigations. "Racism in the form of ethnic cleansing, killing and genocide is wrong anytime, anyplace and against anybody in the world," he said on September 14.

While some analysts celebrate the apparent downfall of the brutal Gaddafi regime, fears are growing that the worst may be yet to come for Libya - especially for blacks. And as The New American has reported since March, the well-documented terrorist affiliations of rebel leaders have experts worried that the emerging Islamist regime could be even worse than the last.

Photo: AP Images

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