From The Grio — It is, in many ways, a terrible time to be a black man in Libya. Too often during these uncertain and unstable days, African skin appears to be the mark of a wanted person — guilty or not.
According to some, so-called ‘Africans’ in Libya have long been falsely blamed for crime, violence and disorder. But Libya’s shift in power has apparently given rise to a far more worrying trend, sometimes violent, which has lead to black people being wrongly accused of supporting the repressive Gadhafi regime. And the consequences of these inaccurate accusations can be brutal, even deadly.
For many years, the former Libyan leader employed the services of soldiers from African countries like Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana to bolster his military — so-called “mercenaries”. A large but unknown number of them fought for him during the bloody revolution. Numerous reports suggested that groups of French-speaking Africans were hired in by the regime to be unleashed on its own people during the most desperate days of the conflict.
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Now, with Gadhafi defeated and his hold over Libya almost disintegrated, there are claims that many rebels and armed civilians, filled with an overwhelming sense of victory and vengeance, have been rounding up any black men they can find and subjecting them to aggressive questioning — with some people being beaten or even killed. There have been claims of abusive behavior by both pro and anti-Gadhafi fighters.
Many of the black men who have been arrested will certainly have been soldiers who came to Libya to fight wars, and are now living the gruesome consequence of being on the losing side. However, many of those being held in Libya’s grim jails were certainly innocent migrant workers who have traveled there from other Africa countries simply to make money, perhaps in Libya’s vast oil industry.
Television pictures broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 at the weekend showed nine Nigerians rounded up and detained by rebel fighters. They appear to be in fear of being murdered by an armed group. One of the trembling captives mutters “stay here with us”, to the television crew, fearing that the presence of a news team might be their only way of escaping execution. ”
We are innocent”, says one. But although “these are Gadhafi fighters”, according to one of the captors, there appears to be little if any evidence that the arrested men are guilty of any wrong-doing. Eventually they are released — saved, possibly, because television cameras were rolling