There are many challenges ahead for the people of Libya, recent reports suggest the country’s the racial challenges there are not foreign at all.
Journalists in the region say that many Black African migrants in Libya are being arrested without just cause except suspicion of their dark skin and being held in jails without any indication of when or if they could be released. David D. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times reports:
Many witnesses have said that when Colonel Qaddafi first lost control of Tripoli in the earliest days of the revolt, experienced units of dark-skinned fighters apparently from other African countries arrived in the city to help subdue it again. Since Western journalists began arriving in the city a few days later, however, they have found no evidence of such foreign mercenaries.
Still, in a country with a long history of racist violence, it has become an article of faith among supporters of the Libyan rebels that African mercenaries pervaded the loyalists’ ranks. And since Colonel Qaddafi’s fall from power, the hunting down of people suspected of being mercenaries has become a major preoccupation.
The unjust arrests of African migrant workers being arrested is not only a violation of individual rights but also reflects badly on the opposition regime that is now trying to establish its legitimacy and governmental control. It is not the first incident of racism fueling the actions of rebels- earlier this year reports of lynchings of several migrants leaked out of the country during the early opposition campaign.
Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch commented in a release on the situation:
“It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli…[the rebel leadership] has legitimate concerns about unlawful mercenaries and violent activity, but it can’t simply arrest dark-skinned men just in case they think they might be mercenaries.”