Khadija Magardie
Khadija Magardie

The brigade for boiling and burning blacks

Just north of here, the tree of liberty is being liberally watered — not with the blood of patriots, but with the blood of blacks.

And also unlike Jefferson’s dictum, it isn’t just occasionally, but has been going on for months.

The vigilantes have even given themselves a name “The Brigade for Purging Slaves and Black Skin”; scrawling their grim calling card across walls in the cities they pass through. Like typical criminals for whom voyeurism is part of the thrill, they’ve been filming their activities, including public hangings, beheadings and torture.

Oddly, the corralling of hundreds of black men, and the bashing in of the skulls of others — solely because they are black, isn’t being met with much of an outrage.

Those being held in feedlots and abandoned schools as they await their fate, are among the lucky ones. Though no functioning legal system exists to try them — at least they’re still alive. Which counts for a lot in a part of the world where the word “black” and “slave” are comfortably synonymous in the dominant language.

And as they’re paraded before the international media, in the corner is a pile of “African” necklaces, amulets and beads; “evidence” of their nefarious crimes. Witchcraft, predictably, has also been mentioned.

Those who’ve managed to evade the long arm of The Brigade have taken to hiding in abandoned shipyards — all the while sending out frantic SOSs to their home countries to rescue them.

These scenes, less Dickensian than they are straight out of the Dark Ages — sum up, more or less, the pathetic plight of hundreds, possibly even thousands of blacks in Libya — as the revolution steams ahead.

And as the media, and Western Europe’s love-fest with the Libyan rebels continues apace, nobody is saying much. Except maybe, in a shocking inversion of empathy, suggesting that all revolutions have their excesses.

This view obviously has historical precedent.

As one genocide authority told a German magazine reporting on what it calls the pogroms against blacks in revolutionary Libya, it was “standard knowledge” that minorities come under attack in civil wars, “because at least one party to the conflict accuses them of collaborating with the enemy”.

Reading this, one would be forgiven for assuming this was a bunch of nappy-haired Bayaka (Pygmies) stuck in Vladivostok. But they’re Africans. Being decapitated, bashed and burned — in Africa. The foot soldiers of “The Brigade for Purging Slaves and Black Skin” are Arabs, and Muslim.

Were the shoe on the other foot and the blacks the aggressors, airlifts would have been organised, and weapons handed out by the Arab League.

And if the rebels were white, or, better yet, of the ranks of that old Middle East scapegoat — the Jews — marches would be held, pamphlets strewn and frantic petitions long emailed to The Hague.

But they’ve already been designated the good guys, fighting the good fight. So who cares if there’s some collateral damage? And all the while, the world does, and says, nothing.

International rights organisations, usually quick to weigh in on similar debates, (and particularly quick when it came to Colonel Gaddafi and his henchmen) have only lately begun expressing “concern”. Perhaps their fax machines weren’t working. Now they say there’s a potential for serious abuse of blacks by the Libyan rebels.

They’re urging the new bosses of Libya to do more to protect black Libyans, amid reports that members of one black tribe (and they are many) were being rounded up and lashed with whips (image sound familiar?) — or for “simply vanishing” after being taken from hospitals by revolutionaries.

Amnesty International’s response would be admirable if it had come in time. Like, say, in July, when the Wall Street Journal reported on the dangers facing the Tawergha tribe from the Libyan rebels.

Clearly then, these are no excesses, but a deliberate campaign by the likes of The Brigade to get rid of not just “foreign” blacks in the country as workers or mercenaries, but their own, home-grown ones.

As those who have had experience being black in the Middle East will know, sometimes you don’t need an excuse like a revolution to treat a black like a “abd” or Kushi (Kushite).

Particularly deafening is the silence from other African countries, except maybe Ghana.

The African Union has weighed in only half-heartedly and is more concerned with moral posturing on diplomatic double standards.

Then there is the predictable silence of the Muslim world (including from Libya’s black Muslim neighbours like the Sudan, Senegal, Mali and the like) who consider Libya, both before and after Gaddafi, to be “one of us”.

In no small part due to the efforts of their US-based PR agencies, the Libyan rebels have convinced the media they are the good guys — to the extent that most reports contain disclaimers that there is no credible evidence of rebel atrocities against blacks inside Libya.

Whoever is looking hasn’t been online much where they would find a range of sites stacked with what they call rebel atrocity videos, like the ones archived on this site.

To frame the narrative, as some have done, as though these “Africans” are somehow out of place in Libya is disingenuous. It is after all an African country itself, with a substantial black population, like its neighbours.

One earnest journalist doing a live report gestured to the pile of black bodies killed by the rebels for being alleged mercenaries, remarked, matter of factly to the camera that they “appeared to be African”. A stunning observation, given that he, like Libya — was in fact, in Africa.

It would be interesting to see if the Libyan rebels will be held up to the same standard as the likes of the rebel fighters of Alassane Ouattara — who have been accused of war crimes during the battle to oust Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast earlier this year.

If not, one may only conclude that in the desperate bid to be “on the right side of history”, and Libyan revolutionary largesse — black life, and in particular, black migrant worker life, has been sacrificed for the higher ideal: democracy.

Where is Luis Moreno-Ocampo now?

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    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Its sickening to witness the slaughter of blacks in Libya while the conspicuous silence of NATO countries responsible for this genocide, speaks volumes of its hypocrisy and greed for oil.

      The orgy of death and destruction in Libya , parallels Iraq and Afghanistan which have now turned into incubators for the next generation of jihadists. Sadly, this cycle of deadly violence and destruction, unleashed by the NATO bombing, has only just begun – all in the name of “liberating” a country yet again, to secure lucrative oil contracts.

      Thus kind of democracy, obtained at the barrel of a gun is shortlived, so whether we like it or not, just like Iran, Libya is guaranteed to become an Islamic Republic in the future.

    • Shaman sans Frontieres

      Excellent article, Khadija. There’s no place for such atrocities in this day and age and yet they take place around the world, daily. The Maghreb is a peculiar place, half desiring to be part of Southern Europe, and Mediterranean, half nomad, and yet obviously, fundamentally, a large slice of Africa.

      Perhaps the old cliche of ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ has been used for too long. Perhaps it’s done duty as an ethnocentric evasion to deflect the kind of issues that you raise.

      I was disturbed on my first visit to Egypt, to experience the anti-black sentiments expressed by people in Cairo, some ten years ago.

      But to vex the record more, there is the eternal strife between Islam and Christian and animist Africans, and there is the uneven distribution among these of varying kinds of chauvinism, and fundamentalism, and modernity. The strife between North and South Sudan is an obvious case in point. So is the conflict between northern and southern regions in Nigeria.

      I think that the AU needs to wake up and set up a high commission on affiliation, ethnicity, and creed, and conflicts around these matters, and start to grasp the nettle and make it plain to the wider world that these things do need to be discussed. As long as the AU is complacent over these things, we cannot expect the rest of the world to speak up – though Amnesty International really ought to be more outspoken already.

    • Isabella VD Westhuizen

      Well the western elites have decided who we must support and we all fall in line. Questions are not tolerated in the free west. We simply accept what Mr Murdoch tells us. Oceania and Eurasia are now glorious allies, War is Peace Ignorance is freedom.
      Double plus good.

    • zozo

      This confirms private thoughts held by most peoples of the world of wishing for an extinction of black race, based mostly on the perpetuated myth that these people are burden to other people. What ever happen(bad) to black is considered well earned given their less than useful occupation of the earth (in the minds of people with power to effect change).

    • Myth Os

      This is not about Africa.

      It is about Libya, the Mediterranean Free Trade Zone and…

      OIL for the New Roman Empire created in June this year when the WEU and EU merged and formed “the 10″ with a High Representative. Look it up in the book of Daniel and Google the event.

      So much more than the mickey mouse AU and it’s pretentious self pride.

    • todd kidd

      Thank you for writing a beautiful article. I am a black American and I live in Houma, Louisiana. It’s very sad what is going on in Libya and I am really disappointed that President Obama and the African Union have not spoken out loudly regarding the abuses being committed by the rebels in Libya. The West is hypocritical is could care less about Libya; they simply want the oil. It’s the same in Zimbabwe; the West wants access to resources and they don’t care about how it affects the local population. Mugabe is no saint but I admire and respect him for standing up to the West.

    • John Patson

      I do not know where you get the idea that the “Western Media” is not saying much.
      All the reporting on the issue I have seen has been in the “Western Media.”
      M&G has not bothered to send a reporter to Libya, other than in President Zuma’s plane — the one which did not know how to fiy to Behghazi.
      It is a matter of record to that the calls for moderation have been coming from London, Washington, Berlin and Paris, while from Pretoria you have calls for the dictator Gaddafi to be included in the new government!

    • gksa

      So they had a choice between getting blitzed by Ghaddafi if they dare to have an opinion that doesn’t match his or getting locked up or worse for the colour of their skin?

      No wonder they thought that keeping their opinions to themselves and just siding with Ghaddafi was the more attractive option. What a wonderful world we live in.

    • Save SA Vote DA

      Good article Khadija! I entirely agree – the gullible amongst us have already bought the ‘Ghadaffi bad, Rebels good’ script being sold by the French and British adventurers.

      I fear it is too late now – what will happen will happen, and the Libyan resources will be carved up into 20 year contracts amongst the victors.

    • John Patson

      Save SA’s argument does not hold water (or oil).
      Under Gadaffi it was mainly Western companies who had control of the oil fields, ushered in after Gadaffi renounced developing nuclear weapons.
      (The oil installations had fallen into virtual disuse during the years of nationalisation due to a Libyan reluctance to perform the most basic maintenance).
      Now they have to get in the queue again to deal with the new regime, which will probably be open to any suitably high offers from China or Russia.
      It was the feeling that most of the country was missing out on the new oil boom which was one of the contributing factors to the rebellion.

    • MLH

      Lost for words!

    • dimwit

      John Patson is right on both accounts.

    • http://blogroid.wordpress.com Nicholas

      Is it true that a sizeable number of the mercenaries being “loyal” to Gadaffi are Zimbabwean soldiers sent off to Libya by Mr Mugabe’s generals, as a way to get them out of the way in Zim itself for a range of tactical and strategic reasons? And that they are not really being welcomed home by their bosses, and generally are being ignored along with these locally black “libyan” Africans whom you describe being slaughtered.

      This is the relatively more inchoate argument presented by my fairly unsophisticated Zim gardener who claims some of his relatives are stuck there, as do some of my more educated Zim colleagues who also claim to have extended ‘kinspersons’ performing military duty in Libya?

    • X Cepting

      Sorry, bit confused here. Berbers have been the occupants of Lybia for most of approx. 4000 years. The fact that you bemoan the slaughter of Africans on African soil by Lybian rebels to me almost sounds like you claim they have no right to Lybia, and black African migrant workers have more right and should be treated better? Funny, I do not recall a similar piece from you when migrant workers (makwerikweri) had similar disdainful and violent treatment in South Africa not so long ago. The atrocities happening in Lybia is inhumanly disgusting, agreed but no different from the atrocities that has happened and is happening anywhere else in the world at war or closer to home with the AU saying very little in each case. Making a “our poor black (African) brothers” case out of this is not honoring or helping those who continue to die horifically, guiltlessly. Just look at Zim for instance. I do not see you bemoaning the ongoing attrocities committed by Mugabes “veterans” on Zimbabweans of all shades. Is the killing in Zim ok because it is black Africans killing black Africans?

    • X Cepting

      @todd kidd – If the Nestle-Mugabe incident is any indication, or Zimplats, for instance, Mugabe is firmly in bed with the West to the detriment of his own countrymen’s welfare, many whom have fleed to neighbouring countries to try and make a live away from starvation and violence. He only pays lip-service to defiance, his bank balance and asset holdings in the West and East paints a very different picture of where his loyalties and friendships lie.