Gaddafi’s ‘African mercenaries’: Myth or reality?


Unidentified pro-Qaddafi security forces stand near a checkpoint on a street in Qasr Banashir, Libya, on March 1. Christian Science Monitor

Myweku writes about the worrying racist undertones of claims that Gaddafi is using ‘African mercenaries’ to kill Libyan protesters:

‘Col. Gaddafi has made no attempts in hiding his supposed love of “Africa” and his determination to help create a free borderless continent and single currency. A 2010 report about the state of “race relations” in Libya does, however, paint a different picture within his own borders.

‘According to a United Nations Human Rights statement – ‘Libya must end its practices of racial discrimination against black Africans, particularly its racial persecution of two million black African migrant workers. There is substantial evidence of Libya’s pattern and practice of racial discrimination against migrant workers’…

‘Against such a background it is perhaps reasonable to question the validity of this supposed use of “African” mercenaries by the Gaddafi regime to thwart the efforts of protesters. Given Libya’s relatively large black population, are we to assume or conclude that their presence in Gaddafi’s security forces is that mysterious? If so I wonder why?

‘Africans in the main have been sympathetic and supportive of the desires of Tunisians and Egyptians in their protests. However, the African media and forums are beginning to ask if the prominence and publicity given to so called African mercenaries running amok amongst Libyan protesters pillaging and raping is beginning to tell a rather interesting story about the motives of some Libyan protesters.’ explains why it is necessary to challenge the generally accepted narrative of the sanguinary ‘African mercenary’ in Libya:

‘But like much of northern Africa, in Libya there is a long history of fear, hatred, and oppression based on skin color. There is a distinct minority of “black” Libyans whose slave origins mean they are still regarded with contempt by some, as there is a large number of political and economic refugees in what is a relatively prosperous state… And while oppression organized by skin color has a long history, the Gaddafi regime has contributed a different angle to this prejudice: the foreign fighter. Since the early 70s, Libya has offered aid, by degrees of openness, to revolutionary and opposition groups in most every corner of the world…

Pambazuka News for more

Comments are closed.