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The AU has also not withdrawn its “roadmap” that called for Gaddafi to remain in power while a transition to a new government was undertaken. This has not enamored the organization with rebel leaders who deny claims of mass roundups and racially motivated killings.
But several western news organizations would disagree with those denials. Reuters reports on a camp that desperate black Africans have set up along the sea shore where refugees tell grim stories of murder, robbery, and beatings at the hands of young Libyans who accost any male with a black face and are likely to haul them off to one of dozens of detention centers in the Libyan capital.
“The danger is that there is no oversight by any authorities, and the people who are carrying out the arrests – more like abductions – are not trained to respect human rights,” said Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International. “They are people who carry a lot of anger against people they believe committed atrocities.”
Reuters also reports:
Reporters saw the bodies of 22 men of apparent African origin at a Tripoli beach Saturday, people who locals said were mercenaries killed by anti-Gaddafi fighters.
Elsewhere in Libya, dead men of African origin have been a common sight since the uprising, as has been the sight of ill treatment of Africans by Libyan anti-Gaddafi fighters.
While Gaddafi recruited heavily among the black tribes in southern Libya for the military, few of the victims in Tripoli were members of the armed forces. And the arbitrary nature with which the black males were rounded up with no effort to establish the residency of the detainees, has given Western governments, as well as human rights groups, cause for great concern. What of the thousands of detainees held elsewhere in Libya, but without the minimal protection of Western reporters and human rights observers being on hand? Rosenthal cataloged atrocities by rebels dating back to the beginning of the rebellion. One wonders whether violations of human rights by the anti-Gaddafi opposition will be investigated with equal fervor shown toward pro-Gaddafi forces.
One thing is certain: The NTC will not allow foreign military personnel on the ground in Libya. No peacekeepers, no “observers, no foreign troops at all.” Libya’s deputy representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said that Libya’s situation was unique: “It is not a civil war, it is not a conflict between two parties, it is the people who are defending themselves against the dictatorship.” That may well be, but their refusal raises suspicions that the NTC knows full well what’s happening and feels the fewer witnesses the better.
The UN can’t force the NTC to accept the observers, nor can Western governments deploy military units to help with even routine security. As it stands now, black African migrants are staying indoors, terrified to go out, or are huddling in makeshift camps with little food and water and no medicine. At the camp visited by the Reuters correspondent, disease had already broken out from the unsanitary conditions and fresh water was extremely scarce.
This is obviously a major test for the new government. While intentions may be good, the NTC have yet to demonstrate that its control over forces occupying the capital city is strong enough to counter the blatant racism and anger of rebel fighters who have yet to prove that they respect the human rights of prisoners regardless of their color. Massacres have already taken place. Indiscriminate killing is continuing.
Can the government do anything to stop it except offer platitudes about justice? The answer to that question will shape a post-Gaddafi Libya in the minds of the West and the rest of the world.
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