Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy It Is Time For You To Do Something To STOP The Genocide Of The Black People Residing in Libya
by Ahmed Sule, CFA
On the 1st of September 2011, leaders from twenty five countries will gather in Paris to attend a conference to discuss the future of Libya and deliberate on ways to support Libya's government-in-waiting i.e. the National Transitional Council (NTC). This International Conference of "the friends of Libya" is the brainchild of President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron who are both co-hosting the event. A number of issues are likely to be discussed at the conference such as funding for the NTC, democratic elections, enforcing judgment against Gadaffi and his fellow human rights abusers and the stability of Libya. However, one important issue is likely to be ignored at the conference: the ongoing genocide committed by the Libyan rebels on the black population of Libya.
Before I go further, I would like to declare my bona fides: I am a British national of African descent based in London. I am black and proud. I consider myself to be a pacifist as I believe that violence should not be used to resolve disputes. Finally, I am not a Gadaffi apologist or loyalist.
The purpose of this open letter is to implore you to address, prevent and stop the ongoing human right abuses committed by the Libyan rebels whom you support. While there are some reports of the humanitarian crisis currently taking place in Libya, most sections of the global press and political establishment have either deliberately or accidentally failed to report or address the gradual extermination of the black population by the rebels.
Of the seven million people that populate Libya, around two million are blacks (of which about a million are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa). Unfortunately, Libya has a track record of continuous racial discrimination against its black population. As far back as 1998, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about Libya's racist attacks on black migrant workers. In 2006, Human Right Watch documented instances of human right abuses against migrant workers. Since the beginning of the uprising against Gadaffi in February 2011, the black residents of Libya have been at the receiving end of the conflict.
At the start of the rebellion, it was alleged that Colonel Gadaffi employed a number of mercenaries from some parts of Africa to repress the demonstrations that were taking place in Libya. It has also been reported that Gadaffi also used mercenaries from Algeria and some parts of Europe. However, a myth has been created since the rebels gained control, that Gadaffi mainly used blacks mercenaries to repress the uprising. Unfortunately, some sections of the Western press have also helped spread this myth by reporting on the wide spread use of black mercenaries in Libya, inspite of the lack of evidence to support their reports. Despite the popularity of this myth in Libya, a number of human rights organization such as Amnesty International have examined the allegation and found little evidence to support it.
As Libya has previously had a low tolerance for its black residents, this myth has now resulted in a campaign to lynch people of black pigmentation residing in Libya. The rebels have played a large part in this attack against the Libyan black residents. Some rebels even created a slogan describing the conflict as an attempt to purge Libya of slaves and black people. We have seen on the television screens several instances of dead bodies of black Africans left on the road. Injured black people are being deprived access to medical care in a number of territories controlled by the rebels, while there have been many instances of the rebels kidnapping black people from their homes and places of work. The rebels have also been uploading to the Internet , images and videos of black people being killed, while there have been reported instances of black people taken to the desert and stabbed to death. There are also some isolated cases of suspected black mercenaries hung from poles in Benghazi in a way not to dissimilar to the public lynching blacks were subjected to during the Jim Crow era. With the ongoing attacks on the blacks, Libya has now become a fertile ground for applying the Final Solution concept, only this time it is no longer the Nazi's trying to exterminate the Jews, but rather the Libyan rebels (supported by you) trying to exterminate the blacks. Because of this genocide on the black people, majority of the black residents live in fear. Yet while this genocide continues to take place, the world remains silent.
As leaders of the free world, one expects you to be at the vanguard of the fight for justice. However, what we observe is your silence as this genocide continues. When the three of you jointly wrote an op-ed about the need to act in Libya (published in the Times in April 2011), you stated that "We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya". Does this ÔÇśbetter time for Libyans' include the blacks who have seen their women raped, their sons hanged and their husbands stabbed? In justifying the need to act in Libya, you wrote, "the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need." Well the black Libyans are also calling for action; the black immigrant workers are also calling for help and the maimed, bruised and battered black people of Libya are looking to the world in their hour of need. Will you also hear their cries?
You also wrote in your op-ed that "Our duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that." Does this mandate come with the caveat that black civilians are excluded and that the rebels are free to exterminate them?
My plea to you is to focus on the humanitarian crisis taking place in Libya. I also urge you to listen to what the human rights organizations are saying about the crime against humanity taking place in Libya instead of listening to the oil executives and defence chiefs who are more interested in extracting oil at a cheaper price and supplying arms in order to enforce stability. I urge you to see the black people of Libya as human beings. I urge you not to ignore the crime against humanity committed by the NTC even as you address the human rights atrocities committed by Gadaffi. I urge you to view the life of a man, woman and child as being more important than a barrel of sweet crude oil or a reconstruction contract. I urge you to put pressure on the NTC to stop the killing. I urge you to stop the genocide.
I would like to address this section of the letter to President Obama. President Obama, you may not know me, but the people who know me would say that I am your number one fan. You have been my hero for many years and I have been inspired by your life story. I have always viewed any attack on you as an attack on me. I have a number of T-shirts with your inscription and I have a large sized portrait of you in my house. I try to read every possible book about you. I have also embarked on a number of photo documentary projects and written articles to support you (see below)
However, despite my admiration and support for you, I am saddened, disappointed and shocked by your silence on the ongoing genocide taking place in Libya. Similarly, when the Arab awakening started in Egypt and Tunisia, you initially refrained from speaking out even though the government of Mubarak and Ben Ali were killing their own citizens. Although you later spoke out when the repression continued, however in the case of the NTC extermination of the black people of Libya, you have remained silent despite the glaring evidence of the crime against humanity being carried out by the rebels that you along with Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy support.
Whether you know or do not know, whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not, your election as the first black president of America brought hope to millions of black people located in various parts of the world. From Abuja to Zinkwazi, millions rejoiced at your achievement. While the black people all over the world should not expect you to address their problems (as you are President of the USA and not the President of the black race), there is an expectation that you should not be supportive of any militia that has the aim of exterminating the black race. There is also an expectation that you should speak out and follow the path of your Nobel Prize predecessor Dr. Martin Luther King who once said, "a time comes when silence is betrayal".
In conclusion, the world is looking at all of you and how you handle the situation in Libya could define your legacy. What legacy do you want to leave behind: Do you want to be remembered as a generation of leaders that saved a vulnerable group of people from extermination? Do you want to be remembered as a generation of leaders that stopped Gadaffi in his tracks and also prevented the Libyan rebels from acting in a similar manner? Do you want to be remembered as a generation of leaders that stood up for justice? Or would you prefer to be remembered as the generation of leaders who remained silent in the face of genocide? Would you prefer to be remembered as the generation of leaders who refused to dance with the widows, the injured and the humanitarian agencies, but preferred to jump into bed with the oil and defence chiefs? Would you prefer to be remembered as the generation of leaders who valued a barrel of sweet crude oil more than their fellow human beings ? The choice is yours.
Cc: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon- United Nations.
Ahmed Sule, CFA
31 August 201l