It is now beyond doubt, and being reported widely: While NATO has been pounding Libyan cities and massacring civilians with thousands of air strikes, the NATO-led “rebels” have been rounding up, targeting, beating and lynching darker skinned Libyans and immigrant workers from other African countries.
No one should be surprised. Imperialism, racism and attacks on immigrant workers go hand in hand.
In the battle for the working-class neighborhood of Abu Salim in Tripoli, where resistance to NATO was strong, NATO warplanes bombed indiscriminately and the “rebels” swept through the wreckage, kicking down doors and slaughtering civilians, many of whom were trapped in the neighborhood precisely because of the saturation bombing.
At an Abu Salim hospital, according to the Independent, the rebels executed dozens of darker-skinned people in their hospital beds and others with their hands tied behind their backs. The rebels eagerly showed the bloody carnage to reporters and admitted the patients and others were killed because they were black. (The Independent, Aug. 27)
In an Aug. 26 report by the U.N. Refugee Agency, Ahmed, a Libyan teacher from Somalia who lives in Tripoli, said about the rebels when he was interviewed by telephone: “If they see you are African, that you are black, they will target you. You can't leave your home even for water."
On Aug. 29, Jean Ping, the chairman of the African Union, which has not recognized the imperialist-backed Transitional National Council, charged that the rebels were indiscriminately killing dark-skinned people in Tripoli and other parts of the country. (Associated Press)
On the same day, Aljazeera covered the plight of immigrants from other African countries in Tripoli fleeing the fighting. Immigrants camped at a fishing port in Tripoli, hoping to get on boats to Italy, claimed that rebels are hunting down and killing Africans and raping African women.
The racist attacks committed by the rebels with great consistency for the last five months have been confirmed from independent and African news sources, the U.N. Refugee Agency and even Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are far from helpful to those fighting imperialism. The lynchings have been ignored and covered-up by mainstream news sources.
Former congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney has traveled to Libya three times during the war and presented proof at forums all over the United States that NATO is targeting civilians and infrastructure and that the rebels have been lynching darker-skinned people.
The political character of the NATO-led rebels
Who are the rebels in Libya? Why does a corporate entity like Fox News, the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim network, think they are so great?
There is much understandable confusion about the answer to this question, considering the sea of disinformation about the conflict in Libya in the capitalist press. The racist crimes of the rebels, however, should clear up illusions by those in the anti-war movement that the rebels are progressive in any way..
The political character of the rebels is not really all that complicated. The rebels have subordinated the independence of Libya to the wealthy elites and the armies of their former colonizers and enslavers. Their racism reflects their reactionary and opportunistic alliance with imperialism.
The Pentagon has been clear about the political character of the rebels and the TNC from day one of the war on Libya—why else would Washington, The New York Times and Wall Street champion them as freedom fighters?
According to the Guardian, NATO soldiers are leading all the major ground operations and directing the activities of the rebels. It is inconceivable that NATO generals are unaware of the racist character of the Libyans under their command.
The struggle against racism and imperialism is never a secondary factor in any struggle, especially in a country being targeted by imperialism for regime change. The starting point for any progressive movement is strict unity in defense of a targeted country’s independence from imperialism and a firm denunciation of all imperialist attacks, including racist demonization campaigns and pogroms. It cannot be otherwise. Any departure from these principles strengthens imperialism’s hand.
In Libya, the rebels, some of whom may have legitimate grievances against the Gaddafi government, have elevated their own narrow interests over the interests of the Libyan people as a whole, the people of Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Every single one of the TNC members and many of the rebels who are fighting under the leadership of the Pentagon and NATO (the greatest purveyors of destruction and oppression on the planet) are doing so out of the hope that they will share in the plunder of Libya with their imperialist masters. The ethnic cleansing of sub-Saharan Africans and darker-skinned Libyans that has been going on in Libya proves the correctness of this assertion.
Why we reject Washington’s racist demonization campaigns
In Afghanistan, Iraq and every imperialist war, the Western powers fraudulently promote the cause of a group of fighters that they brand freedom fighters, allies or liberators. In reality, Washington and the Pentagon could not care less about the rebels and will tolerate them only as long as they help facilitate the plundering of Libya and its oil.
In an imperialist war, the U.S. also unleashes the most racist of demonization and assassination campaigns against the country’s leader in order to justify the takeover of a sovereign country through force.
In the case of Libya, Washington, London and Paris framed the struggle as a valiant rebellion; the masses of the Libyan people and the rest of the world versus Colonel Gaddafi. This is a complete distortion of the actual battle lines in the struggle over the future of Libya.
The biggest demonstrations in Libya in the last six months have not been anti-Gaddafi. They have been anti-NATO! The big-business press has of course buried this this truth.
Despite all the hype and demonization, many Libyans continue to support Gaddafi's leadership, recognizing the gains experienced by poor and working-class Libyans since 1969, although they are now afraid to speak out for fear of being shot by the rebels.
"'We ask for one thing: We want Moammar Kadafi back to fix what has gone wrong,' said Amer bin Ashour as he stood under a shade tree Sunday along one of Abu Salim's main drags. 'A lot of people here don't like what's going on in Libya, but they're afraid to say so because they might get shot.'"(L.A. Times)
In fact, the demonization campaign against Gaddafi is meant to conceal the real aims of imperialism and silence opposition to the war within the centers of imperialism. The truth is that the war on Libya is no different than the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the U.S.-backed occupation of Palestine.
The war in Libya is about dominating an energy rich country and strategically important area of the world. It is about destroying an independent government in the region and deepening U.S. control not only of the Middle East, but of Africa as well. It is not about freeing the people of Libya, but enslaving them.
U.S. imperialism is not justified when it targets the leader of a country in order to destroy and plunder it. All progressives and revolutionaries should stand firm against imperialism and oppose the demonization campaigns underway against Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and many others.
On Oct. 6, 7 and 8 there will be demonstrations on the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan war in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and many other places. The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition will be joining those demonstrations and demanding “Money for Jobs, Not War and Occupation!” and “U.S./NATO Hands of Libya! Hands off Africa!”