Mosaic Blog

Deadly Racism In Post-Gaddafi Libya

In the aftermath of the Libyan revolution against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, many black Sub-Saharan African migrants and dark skinned Libyans continue to be the target of attacks by armed "revolutionaries". While race has long been a dividing line in the predominantly Arab country, "the atrocities attributed to black mercenaries during the uprising against Gaddafi, as well as the allegiance some regions populated by dark-skinned Libyans showed him in the war, have given the race question a new and deadly currency," according Joseph Logan of IOL News.


Human Rights Watch reported that the town of Tawergha, a predominantly black town south of Misurata which used to be home to over 30,000 residents, remains deserted in the weeks following the revolution. Militias from Misurata are "terrorizing the displaced residents…accusing them of having committed atrocities with Gaddafi forces." Katrina Nikolas of the Digital Journal writes, "[The death of Gaddafi] has not satisfied the desire for vengeance amongst still-armed NTC militias."

A rebel points his rifle at a man accused of being a mercenary fighting for Muammar Gaddafi.


One Liberian migrant who is one of 600 Africans camping out at a fishing port in Tripoli said, "If children see us they hold their noses, and revolutionaries sometimes shoot by us. Blacks are Gaddafi, they say. We need to leave." Another migrant said they faced constant assaults including robbery, physical attacks, and rape. 


Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Council have called on the African Union and the NTC to protect the rights of migrants and refugees. Middle East and North Africa Director at HRW Sarah Leah Whitson said, "It's a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli. The NTC should stop arresting African migrants and black Libyans unless it has concrete evidence of criminal activity. It should also take immediate steps to protect them from violence and abuse."


Last month, the National Transitional Council denied the allegations, saying "We do not make any distinction among people on grounds of color. And we do not discriminate against our brothers from African countries." He added that any captured mercenaries will receive fair trials and that the NTC will "fully investigate any human rights violations committed by its fighters," but that remains to be seen.

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Deadly Racism In Post-Gaddafi Libya