Below is our translation of an article from lenta.ru with commentary by Vince Dhimos.
Ironic, isn’t it? It was through the efforts of the only US black president that Libya is now the largest market for black African slaves in the world!
April 9, 2019
It was never like this under Gadaffi
Slavery, terror and death camps. New dictator is bringing order to Libya
Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his loyal soldiers are engaged in fierce battles on the outskirts of the country's capital, Tripoli. The commander is firmly determined to cleanse the homeland of the Islamists, who, in his opinion, have staged chaos and lawlessness in the country. Rush of terror, slave markets and death camps where refugees who want to move to Europe are robbed, raped and killed are the realities of today's Libya. “Lenta.ru,” decided to recall what the country had become after the overthrow of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi and predict where the victory of the new leader would lead her.
The text was first posted on the site in November 2017, today we publish it with relevant additions.
“Does anyone need a digger?” This is a big, strong man, he will dig well! ”Shouts a salesman in a slave market in Tripoli, extolling a stocky and muscular black man. Buyers gradually raise the price. The result - 600 Libyan dinars (about 440 US dollars at the official rate). Sold into slavery, he goes into the hands of his new owners. This seemingly insane scene for the 21st century is quite common in Libyan cities.
The fact that the slave trade is flourishing in the country is not news. The first documentary evidence appeared in April 2017. Slave markets operate in Zuvar, Kastelverde, Kabave, Gadamis, Sabha, Sabrat and several other cities. Living goods - refugees from Central African countries who were trying to get to Europe.
The scheme of turning people into slaves is extremely simple. The migrant turns to the carrier and pays him a certain amount for the trip to Europe. As a rule, from three to five thousand dollars. The refugees give up their last savings. When a migrant enters Libya, he is informed that the money paid is not sufficient, that he needs to pay more, and nobody guaranteed anything to the illegal. If a refugee refuses to pay extra and insists on his rights, demanding respect for the agreement, he/she is beaten or raped, or both. After this treatment, the unfortunate is, as a rule, put up for auction and sold.
For Libyans, trade in Africans from sub-Saharan countries is commonplace. “Discrimination and racism against blacks are rooted in Libyan society — the black trade flourished there until the 1940s. Now Libya plays host to armed militants from different groups, armed oppositionists, gangsters of all stripes, various criminal clans who have made a profitable business from the slave trade,” says Tunisian sociologist Monsef Owann.
“We are packed like matches in a box. We can’t sleep. Many suffer from various diseases. We do not have enough food, we did not take a shower for several months. We will all die if we do not escape from here. This is Golgotha. It is unbearable to live in a room where people lie on the floor and suffocate from the evaporation of urine and feces,” said one of the guests of the refugee camp set up with the EU. Now, the Department for Combating Illegal Migration of Libya (DCIM) is in charge of 19,500 people, although only two months ago there were no more than 7,000 refugees.
The guards constantly brutally beat refugees, using electric shockers as well. It is their response to requests for food, water and medical care.
One of the women refugees simply and casually said that once she was taken from the camp and taken to a house where there were three men: “They raped me. One of them was an employee of the DCIM [Directorate to Counter Illegal Migration (DCIM) of the National Accord government—note by the Russian author] [the National Accord government was set up by the UN—NSS note]. All of these camps are designed to reduce the flow of refugees to Europe. But everything looked good only on paper.
Libyan officials have established a profitable business. For a bribe, they release the refugee and send him to the carriers. As soon as a ship with migrants goes into neutral waters, the Libyan coast guard takes over. The boat is intercepted, and the migrants are returned to the camp.
UN observers, who visited several migrant accommodation centres in Tripoli earlier in the month, could not hide their horror from what they saw: “Thousands of emaciated and crippled men, women and children were locked in hangars without access to the most basic amenities, deprived of human dignity.”
“What was a difficult situation turned into a catastrophe (...) The international community can no longer close its eyes to the unimaginable horrors experienced by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions of detention,” said the Supreme Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al-Hussein. The European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, at a press conference in Brussels, said that he took note of the UN’s comments.
The path to Europe - the road to ISIS
Some migrants manage to escape. Without money and documents, they are easy prey for the numerous gangs operating in Libya. And above all, these are militants one way or another affiliated with ISIS.
Victory over radical Islamists in Libya was solemnly announced after the storming of the city of Sirte in early December last year. However, then strange events began to occur.
For example, in January of this year, American B-2 strategic bombers attacked ISIS positions of 45 kilometers southeast of Sirte. In August, there was a report that terrorists attacked the Libyan National Army (LNA) [Khalifa Haftar’s army] checkpoint 500 kilometres south of the capital, Tripoli. Militants captured and decapitated nine soldiers and two civilians.
It was already impossible to hide the obvious. In late September, a senior official in the Prosecutor’s Office of Libya, Sadiq Al-Sur, admitted that there are ISIS training camps in the Libyan desert. According to the official, in fact, we are talking about the "desert army led by the Libyan fighter al-Mahdi Salem Dangou, also known as Abu Barakat.” “It consists of three brigades. This army was created after the liberation of the city of Sirte,” al Sur added. Militants even set up their own checkpoints on the roads leading to Sirte.
“Southern Libya, with its vast, uncontrolled territories, is the main migration route from sub-Saharan Africa to northern Libya and Europe,” said Walid Naman, an expert on North Africa, in an interview with Gulf News. Consequently, ISIS can, on the one hand, receive replenishment, by recruiting or simply intimidating refugees, and on the other, it can easily take them prisoner and then sell them to the auctioneers in slave markets.
None are guilty and no one is accountable
That is the conclusion reached by the President of Guinea and part-time African Union president Alpha Condé. “How was it possible to ask a country in which there is no government to create a barrier to refugees? This is irresponsible! Those who suggested this knew that there was a power vacuum [in Libya] and there were no opportunities to provide decent conditions for migrants. The main culprits are here [in Europe],” lamented the politician on TV channel France 24.“ It is necessary that our friends [Europeans] admit their mistake,” he added. [bracketed comments were in original Russian text. – NSS]
The situation in Libya with refugees, their sale into slavery and recruitment into the ranks of ISIS became so acute that the UN took an unprecedented step. A group of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, a total of 25 people, were transported from Libya to Niger. This is just a drop in the bucket.
But in Europe, they were not in a hurry to admit their mistakes, repent, or even less curtail programs for filtering refugees. In particular, under the Department of Defence of the United Kingdom, the training of Libyan coast guard employees continued.
In 2019, we can say that the European efforts paid off: Libyans working for money from EU countries detain unlucky seafarers and send them to something on the order of concentration camps, where torture, rape and slave markets await them. There are about a million refugees in the country, and this number is constantly growing: European ships leave the frail craft on the open sea, and Libya, in distress, declines to take any more - Libyans invariably sail behind them and take them back by force.
This situation is sharply criticized by human rights defenders, but politicians are not in a hurry to respond to it: after all, the refugee problem is being solved, and the means to that end is not so important. The main thing is that voters are satisfied. The Libyan authorities are also happy with everything: stable funding allows conflicting Tripoli-based Islamist groups to continue to get rich at the expense of refugees. [Haftar is fighting these jihadists, while the UN-appointed Government of National Accord, does nothing to deter them.—Vince]
Meanwhile, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his loyal soldiers are advancing on the capital and on the main concenfortration points illegal immigrants. Since the beginning of 2019, they have managed to seize the richest oil-bearing areas of the country, driving out Islamists from there, and as a result, the situation in Tripoli has become unbearable: residents suffer from lack of money, unemployment, ruin and corruption. All this is complicated by the precarious power of Islamist groups, who have managed to unite only in the face of the threat from Haftar’s army.
In this situation, many residents of war-torn Libya miss the brutal, bloody, but stable times of Gaddafi - and it is possible that Haftar is inspired by the image of the "fraternal leader and leader of the revolution" and hopes to get full power in the country. For his part, however, it would be reasonable not to forget that it was the dictatorial style of government of Gaddafi that once pushed the country into civil war, and only through the UN-led peace process and only by taking into account the interests of all opposing sides - except the most radical - can the country have a chance for a peaceful and successful future.