An Uncertain Future For Blacks In Post-Gadhafi Libya

The Nigerian daughter of migrant worker waits with a bag to board a relief ship to leave the besieged city of Misrata April 17, 2011 at the port in Misrata, Libya. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council called for the National Transitional Council of Libya to protect all foreign workers, “including African migrant workers,” at a meeting held Thursday.
Black Sub-Saharan African migrants and darker-skinned Libyans face an uncertain future in a country where they have been targeted by racist-related violence and persecution.

The post-Gadhafi uprising was marred by widespread racism toward blacks, as unarmed migrant workers were indiscriminately arrested and mistaken as Gadhafi’s mercenaries.

The revolution fueled a deep-rooted racism against blacks in the predominantly Arab nation.

“The past and present trade in African slaves to the Arab world has left a long and bitter memory in African society to this day,” stated Mark Perry in this study entitled, “Perceptions of Race in the Arab World.”

Blacks had been held in makeshift jails across Libya’s capital of Tripoli. The African Union (AU) and Amnesty International had expressed concern over the treatment of blacks in Libya.

The recent mass arrests and barbaric attacks against blacks in Libya by rebel forces were actions that “tapped into an existing xenophobia” according to Amnesty International researcher Diana El Tahawy.

For many years, the late Gadhafi and self-proclaimed “King of Kings of the Africans” had recruited black Sub-Saharan Africans for the national military. These black ‘mercenaries’ were also used to subdue the uprising against Gadhafi’s 42-year regime, which had prompted the suspicion of rebel supporters.

As a result, thousands of Kenyans, Chadians, Nigerians, Nigeriens, Ghanaians, Cameroonians and other Sub-Saharan Africans have left Libya but an unknown number still remain.

More than one million Sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees work as cheap labor in Libya’s oil industry, agriculture, construction and other service sectors.

Amnesty International reported that human rights abuses, torture, disappearances and the lynching of blacks in Libya have already taken place up until Gadhafi’s assassination and experts fear that the genocide may still continue.

The reoccurring discrimination of blacks in Libya was addressed in a 2010 testimony at the United Nations.

“Libya must end its practices of racial discrimination against black Africans, particularly its racial persecution of two million black African migrant workers,” the statement read.

Libya’s interim leaders have officially declared a “liberation.”

“We enter with steady steps and with faith in God in a new period, the post-liberation period,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, the vice chairman of the National Transitional Council said at a Sunday ceremony in Benghazi.

By Chika Oduah | published in theGrio

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