Alert Update: Libya - Put an end to the persecution and lynching of black Africans by militias

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Black citizens and residents in Libya subject to racial attacks.

1. Summary

Since the circulation of unverified reports that General Qaddafi had hired African mercenaries to quash protests during Libya’s uprising, many African citizens, immigrants and migrant workers of dark skin colour have been subjected to racial harassment, violence, imprisonment and executions at the hands of rebels.

IHRC is deeply concerned that the ingrained discrimination in contemporary Libya against black Africans will underpin a descent into mob-style justice and genocide against those most vulnerable in the Libyan state.


2. Background

IHRC is extremely concerned about evidence emerging from Libya that black Africans are being rounded up by rebel forces en-mass due to their skin colour. It is in an environment of suspicion and turmoil that these Africans are threatened, imprisoned and executed under accusations of being pro-Qaddafi or enlisted by Qaddafi as mercenaries.

IHRC has been documenting the institutional discrimination and abuse suffered by black Africans in Libya for many years. Out of a population of over 6.5 million, it is estimated that between 1-2 million are non-Arab – many of whom are migrant workers, but the majority of which are Libyan citizens originating from African countries such as Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

In 2000, discrimination against black Africans erupted into riots, resulting in dozens of migrant workers being lynched by protesters. Hundreds of Eritrean refugees have since been interned in detention centres in Misratah and elsewhere across Libya.

Many accounts from Libya have verified the use of summary executions by armed gangs and militias, as well as the presence of mass graves in the country. The persecution of Africans in Libya must be prevented from erupting into another chapter of genocide based upon racism.

You can read more about these recent developments in an article published by The Independent here http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libyans-dont-like-people-with-dark-skin-but-some-are-innocent-2345859.html

http://libya360.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/lizzie-phelan-witnessing-the-transition-to-fear-in-tripoli/

 For a detailed account of the conditions of these refugees, please visit IHRC’s briefing http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2835


3. Action Required

Write to vice-chair of the Transitional National Council (TNC) for Libya Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, as well as Foreign-Secretary William Hague, urging them to ensure the safety of African minorities in Libya. Campaigners are welcome to use their own writings in their letters, or use the sample letter provided below.

4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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a)    Vice-chair of Libya’s TNC, Abdul Hafiz Ghoga. You can email him at foreign@ntclibya.com.

[Your name]
[Your address]

Mr Abdul Hafiz Ghoga
Vice-Chair of Libyan Transitional National Council,
c/o 15 Knightsbridge,
London,
SW1X 7LY,
England,
United Kingdom.

[Date]

Mr Abdul Hafiz Ghoga,

Re: The persecution, disappearances imprisonment and murder of black Africans in Libya

I am writing to convey my distress over the fate of over a million black Africans currently either citizens of or residing and working in Libya, many of whom are now reported as being subjected to harassment, kidnap, imprisonment and even murder in the aftermath of the fall of Qaddafi.

It has come to my attention that the rebel forces supportive of the TNC have not done enough to protect these communities in Libya.. On the contrary, reports have emerged from your country that many claiming to be rebels have rounded up anyone of dark complexion or bearing an African accent, under the accusation that they are by implication pro-Qaddafi or have been involved in a mercenary force enlisted to suppress demonstrators during the conflict.

As Libya undergoes transformation, evidence of mass graves, and a swelling number of Africans having gone missing raises the question over whether the new Libya will resemble an all-embracing, pluralistic and tolerant society; or simply revert to a system of fear, repression and illegality such as that which thrived during the Qaddafi era.

I call upon you, as vice-chair of the Transitional National Council, to guarantee the protection of African minorities in Libya, and strictly enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards those within the ranks of the rebel forces who have engaged in brutality equal to that of Qaddafi’s regime.

Those accused of being part of the Qaddafi regime’s suppression must be guaranteed the right to a free trial, and their treatment should be in compliance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Equally, those harming innocent minorities must be brought to justice.

I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44 (0)20 7839 2417 or email: private.office@fco.gov.uk)


[Your name]
[Your address]

Rt Hon. William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
London,
SW1A 2AH,
United Kingdom.

[Date]

Dear Mr Hague,

Re: The persecution, disappearances imprisonment and murder of black Africans in Libya

I am writing to convey my concern over the fate of over a million black Africans currently either citizens of  or residing and working in Libya, many of whom are now reported to be at greater risk of harassment, kidnap, imprisonment and even murder in the aftermath of the fall of Qaddafi.

It has come to my attention that the rebel forces supportive of the TNC have not done enough to protect Libya’s African migrant population. On the contrary, reports have emerged from Libya that many rebels have rounded up anyone of dark complexion or bearing an African accent, under the accusation that they are by implication pro-Qaddafi or have been involved in a mercenary force enlisted to suppress demonstrators during the conflict.

As Libya undergoes its transformation, evidence of mass graves, and a swelling number of Africans having gone missing raises the question over whether the new Libya will resemble an all-embracing, pluralistic and tolerant society; or simply revert to a system of fear, repression and illegality such as that which thrived during the Qaddafi era.

The British government was quick to call for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as recognising the TNC as the only legitimate sovereign authority in the country. Moreover, it has made no attempt to hide its support for rebel factions.

I call upon you, as foreign-minister of a country that claimed involvement in Libya a moral and political obligation, to pressure the TNC to guarantee the protection of these communities in Libya. The rebel forces must be persuaded to enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards those within their ranks who commit genocidal acts against sections of Libyan society.

The rule of law must be preserved, and those accused of being part of the Qaddafi regime’s suppression should be guaranteed the right to a free trial, and their treatment should be in compliance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Equally, those who have harmed innocent minorities must be brought to justice.

Prove that your government’s involvement in Libya stems from a genuine humanitarian concern for the people of Libya and Africa.

I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]


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