Libya: Insurgents Reverse Decades of Progress

Published on 7th March 2011

As I have sought to explain here before, the Libyan rebels are not what we consider them to be. Now, before I get the accusation thrown at me that I paint the Libyan rebels with a wide brush, I want to make it clear that not all Libyan rebels share the same goals, motives and behavior.

Gadaffi has sought to emancipate the African continent from centuries of exploitation by outside forces. Mistakes have surely been made, but I can only assume that Gadaffi has the best of intentions. As I mentioned before, Gadaffi blames the emergence of AIDS on American experimentation with biological weapons. Gadaffi is a driving force behind the African Union and other projects that seek to attempt to emancipate the African continent and end the continual division of the continent by outside forces through divide and conquer techniques.

Last year, Gadaffi apologized for the long history of Arab slave trade of black Africans, an issue that many other rulers prefer to ignore. His full words were as following:

"I regret the behavior of the Arabs…They brought African children to North Africa, they made them slaves, they sold them like animals, and they took them as slaves and traded them in a shameful way. I regret and I am ashamed when we remember these practices. I apologize for this."

The European Union on the other hand refuses to apologize for what has been done. Formal apologizing is blocked by Britain, the Netherlands (I'm so proud), Portugal, and Spain. Of course these also happen to be the nations that share the greatest responsibility for what has happened over the centuries. The European Union bureaucrats miss the genuineness the world needs in confronting this history. What is the worth of expressing your "regrets" when you first come together to decide that you don't want to apologize? Those regrets have no meaning, because they miss all elements of empathy and genuine concern for your fellow man and what the countries you represent did to him. There is no way to bring back the millions who died, chained to the ground on the slaveships, and my country refuses to apologize for this, I'm continually embarrassed to be Dutch.

Now, Gadaffi sought to have all the people share in his country share in the oil wealth in the east of the nation. However, Gadaffi sought to attempt to share the wealth with the rest of Africa as well, beginning with the places that needed it the most. On 20 January of this year, allAfrica reported on a Libyan development program in cooperation with Liberia. Whereas Western dominated institution like the World Bank and the IMF prefer to put Africa in debts it can never repay, Libya donated tractors to the people of Liberia.

The article also mentions:

Libya also gave assurances of its willingness to support Liberia's infrastructural development, including roads and bridges, through multilateral development finance institutions in which Libyan presence is meaningful, such as the African Development Bank and the CEN-SAD Investment Bank.

The Liberian and Libyan leaders also consulted on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and its implications for the West Africa region. They agreed that if there is no early resolution of the problem, Liberia will face a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions. Libya promised to send humanitarian aid to Liberia within one week, to assist with the more than 20,000 refugees who have flooded into Liberia from neighboring Ivory Coast.

This is an attempt by the Libyan government to help Liberia become self-sufficient in food production. Libya also helped Lesotho:

Lesotho aims to work tirelessly to improve food production so as to reduce its dependency on food aid from other countries, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, has said. Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa said this on Thursday at an occasion where the Libyan government donated food items that included bags of maize meal, flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar beans, tomato source and milk to the government of Lesotho.

He expressed a deep sense of appreciation over the consignment, aimed at assisting communities in the rural areas to address food shortages and thus attain food security. He said the donation came at the right time when the country is also working hard to mitigate the effects of drought which has contributed to food insecurity.

Mr. Tsekoa added that the Lesotho government also appreciates the support from Libya in various areas of development throughout the country. Libya donated tractors to Zimbabwe as well. Furthermore, Libya donated blankets food and other supplies to Haiti after the Earthquake, even though Libya has no diplomatic relations with Haiti.

Another important subject we need to discuss are the guest workers that were allowed to come to Libya. The number of African guest workers Libya has had is enormous, though it appears the number is declining because black guest workers are unfortunately the target of racism. In 2000, Libya had 6 million Libyans, and one estimate put the number of African guest workers at one million. Another more recent estimate put the number of black Africans in Libya at two million people, though not all of them seem to be guest workers. These people who are able to share in the wealth that Libya has gained through it's natural resources.

Unfortunately, in a multicultural society like Libya, a backlash can be expected, and in the year 2000 a backlash indeed happened. Hundreds of people were killed. As the Economist reported in 2000:

Emeka Nwanko, a 26-year-old Nigerian welder, was one of hundreds of thousands of black victims of the Libyan mob. He fled as gangs trashed his workshop. His friend was blinded, as Libyan gangs wielding machetes roamed the African townships. Bodies were hacked and dumped on motorways. A Chadian diplomat was lynched and Niger’s embassy put to the torch. Some Nigerians attacked their own embassy after it refused refuge to nationals without proper papers—the vast majority.

Libyans sheltering Africans were warned that their homes would be next. Some of Libya’s indigenous 1m black citizens were mistaken for migrants, and dragged from taxis. In parts of Benghazi, blacks were barred from public transport and hospitals. Pitched battles erupted in Zawiya, a town near Tripoli that is ringed with migrant shantytowns. Diplomats said that at least 150 people were killed, 16 of them Libyans. The all-powerful security forces intervened by shooting into the air.

All business reported back in 2000:

Bloody clashes between Libyan youths and many sub-saharan Africans in Libyan cities in September may cast a shadow on the dream of Libyan Leader, Colonel Muamar Ghaddafi to act as a catalyst for the unification of Africa.

The clashes, which are believed to have cost up to a hundred Ghanaian and Nigerian lives, were sparked off when an armed gang from West Africa, believed to be Nigerian, raped and then killed a Libyan woman. Black Africans living in Benghazi, where the incident occurred, were set up and severely beaten. The violence then spread to other Libyan towns.

Benghazi, haven't we heard that name before? Benghazi is the place where the current revolt started. It is also the place where a revolt started 11 years ago against black Libyans and black guest-workers. The revolt in the year 2000 hampered Gadaffi's attempts to force a common currency and open borders for all of Africa. Gadaffi of course blamed the West for inciting the violence back then. I suspect it were lingering racist tendencies in a country that had slaves until the '30s and strong tribal ties that continue to dominate society today.

And now, Western media and Al Jazeera are constantly repeating stories about "African mercenaries". What could the result of this be? The answer is unfortunately genocide. Black Africans are being targeted in Libya now: While much of the world’s attention is focusing on crude oil prices and the Libyan pipelines in the east of the country– human right groups say rebels are committing crimes against humanity.

In east Libya, African hunt began as towns and cities began fall under the control of Libyan rebels, mobs and gangs. They started to detain, insult, rape and even executing black immigrants, students and refugees. In the past two weeks, more than 100 Africans from various Sub-Sahara states are believed to have been killed by Libyan rebels and their supporters.

According to Somali refugees in Libya, at least five Somalis from Somaliland and Somalia were executed in Tripoli and Benghazi by anti-Gaddafi mobs. Dozens of refugees and immigrants workers from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Mali and Niger have been killed, some of them were led into the desert and stabbed to death. Black Libyan men receiving medical care in hospitals in Benghazi were reportedly abducted by armed rebels. They are part of more than 200 African immigrants held in secret locations by the rebels.In many disputes involving Libyan residents and black Africans, the Libyans are turning in the Africans as mercenaries.

Thousands more Africans caught up in this mercenary hysteria are terrified. Some barricaded themselves in their homes, while others hid in the desert. Insulted, threatened, beaten, chased and robbed. Their only crime was being black and therefore treated as “mercenaries” of Gaddafi.

While the airing of Gaddafi’s so called “black mercenaries” by Western media has ignited the issue, some say an xenophobic attitude towards these refugees and labourers has existed for years. They say the current attacks are racially motivated because the rebels have released many actual Libyan mercenaries and soldiers under a tribal agreement. They believe many Arabs felt their Libyan leader was abandoning them for black Africans ever since he became a “pan-Africanist.” Many immigrants were regularly victims of racism.

In many situations, Gaddafi and his inner circle preferred black Africans and Libyans from the south over Libyans from the east. Now the angry mobs using the revolutionary movement across Arabia and North Africa are hunting down black people.

Mohamed Abdillahi, Somaliland, 25, was sleeping at his home in Zouara, when the mobs arrived. “They knocked on the door around 1 o’clock in the morning. They said get out, we’ll kill you, you are blacks, foreigners, clear.”

The revolt in Libya is a revolt against pan-Africanism, in favor of tribalism. Libya is a threat to the West because of it's pan-African dream, and now the dream to unify Africa is being destroyed.

It is increasingly starting to look like the black "mercenaries" that are fighting in Libya are not at all foreigners, but indigenous black Libyans from South Libya, which is still mostly under control of Gadaffi, who are willing to fight for the Libyan regime, because Gadaffi opposes the racist treatment that black Libyans receive from Libyan society. Human Rights Watch, a group that I am skeptical of, appears to be speaking the truth for once, and claims there exists no evidence of Gadaffi importing mercenaries into Libya.

Human Rights Watch says it has seen no evidence of mercenaries being used in eastern Libya.This contradicts widespread earlier reports in the international media that African soldiers had been flown in to fight rebels in the region as Muammar Gaddafi sought to keep control.

In an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide in Libya, Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch said he had conducted research and found no proof of mercenaries being used. Investigator Bouckaert, who has been in the region for two weeks, told RNW that he had been to Al Bayda after receiving reports that 156 mercenaries had been arrested there.

Black Libyans

The town is to the east of the city Benghazi and is also in the hands of the anti-Gaddafi protesters. The rights investigator said that what he found there were, in fact, 156 soldiers from the south of Libya and not from another African country. After talking to them he found out that they were all black Libyans of African descent. The soldiers have since been released by the protesters.

According to Bouckaert, the support of the black southern Libyans for the Gaddafi regime is explicable as Gaddafi fought to counter discrimination against this group in Libyan society.

In the west

RNW's Mohammed Abdulrahman, who interviewed Bouckaert in Benghazi, says that the fact that there are few economic opportunities in the south also leads to southern Libyans joining the army.

HRW has so far only conducted research in the east of the country which is under the control of the protesters, but it says it could well be the case that reports of mercenaries being used in the areas still under government control in the west are also inaccurate.


International media report that the mercenaries are gathering in the central southern town of Sabha, known to be loyal to Gaddafi, and are being sent out from there. Our reporter says the southern location of the town means it is possible that the soldiers here are also from the south of the country and not African mercenaries as claimed in the international media. As the area is under control of Gaddafi's forces this cannot be verified.

I hope it is clear to my readers that we are falling victim to a large number of lies and a lot of deception. Our media are unashamedly trying to overthrow the Libyan regime, and are willing to condemn any black man murdered in Libya and paraded around as being a "mercenary" of Gadaffi. I hope my readers will not jump on the bandwagon in tearing down the pan-African dream.

By David Rothscum.

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