Nine months after the U.S./NATO-led overthrow of the Muammar Gaddafi government in Libya, the country remains entrenched in violence and disorder; human rights abuses are rampant.
In fact, according to Nasser al-Hawary of the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights, “The human rights situation in Libya now is far worse than under the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.” (Inter Press Service, July 14) This statement is telling, especially given that its source is a political opponent of the former government.
The National Transition Council, the pro-imperialist governing body in Libya, has been unable to establish any authority over the country. Armed militias, previously employed by the NTC to fight against Gaddafi’s supporters, continue to roam the country, looting villages and engaging in abductions, killings and torture.
Dark-skinned Libyans and African migrants are particularly vulnerable to the terror of the militias. Racist violence has been a central feature of the Libyan “revolution,” which began Feb. 17, 2011.
Prior to the uprising, Libya was home to about 1 million migrant workers. Rebel propaganda, which the NTC had a hand in producing, maliciously targeted black migrants as “mercenaries” for the Gaddafi government, and black Africans were routinely singled out for lynching, torture and imprisonment based on their skin color. This racism continues. In March of this year, video footage surfaced of black Africans, held in a Benghazi zoo by rebels, being tortured and forced to eat the flag of the former, sovereign government.
The NTC still holds over 6,000 people in detention centers throughout the country. In the desert outside of Sabha, in southwestern Libya, over 1,300 immigrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, are being detained in an open-air prison. The detainees sleep on the desert ground without shelter or bedding, and water and food are scarce.
The human rights situation in Libya today is not only worse than it was under Gaddafi, as al-Hawary states; it represents a near 180 degree flip.
A Jan. 4, 2011, report by the United Nations Human Rights Council of the General Assembly presents by and large a favorable assessment of the human rights situation under Gaddafi and the Jamahiriya government. The summary of the report reads: “Several delegations also noted with appreciation the country’s commitment to upholding human rights on the ground.” The vast majority of the 46 delegations that participated in the review commended the Jamahiriya government’s progress and dedication to upholding human rights.
Political repression in 'free' Libya
The imperialist media heralded the July 7 elections in Libya as proof of a new, democratic state. They scarcely noted, if they did at all, that by the NTC’s own admission nearly 40 percent of eligible voters boycotted the elections. Additionally, all members of the former government who did not defect to the side of imperialism were prevented from running for office. Scores of Libyans were excluded from the list of eligible voters because of their support for the Jamahiriya government.
Unsurprisingly, Mahmoud Elwarfally Jibril, the former prime minister of the NTC, has been declared the winner.
Earlier this year, the NTC proposed a “glorification law,” which made praising the Gaddafi government or criticizing the anti-Gaddafi uprising an offense punishable by up to life imprisonment. While the law was nullified in June, its effects remain. Teachers in Libyan schools are afraid to discuss the last 42 years of their country’s history for fear of reprisal, and there are reports that history textbooks have been censored in accordance with the law.
The reality unfolding in Libya is yet another illustration of the “freedom” and “democracy” that U.S. and NATO bombs deliver.